Mindfulness in Everyday Life
Featured on The Essential Life
Modern life is complex & fraught with overstimulation. With such a barrage of information, stimulation & expectation the mind is in a constant state of running in overdrive just to keep up. This never-sit-still, never rest approach to digesting information is highlighted by mobile device use trends. Sitting in a park, waiting for a bus or out for a walk there is a constant stream of information flowing into our minds through these devices, to which we are, often literally, connected at the hip. While the free access to a world of information is an amazing & wonderful thing it can create a situation where our minds are never at rest, never truly present in the moment. With a flick of the wrist we are immersed in news stories from half a world away, informed of the latest technological breakthroughs, or presented with an image of what our friend had for lunch. While our focus is directed elsewhere at whatever stream of information is sparkling most brilliantly at that instant, we are not truly present in our current circumstances. The practise of mindfulness aims to combat this overstimulation & by doing so clears your head, slows down the nervous system & reduces stress on your mind & body.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the act of being completely present in the current moment. It involves focusing on the environment around you & ignoring thoughts of what has already happened & what might happen in the future. Mindfulness removes the ‘what if?’ sentiment from your thoughts completely & allows you to just be. Mindfulness also involves letting go of all judgments of the world & it’s occupants, letting go of labels like good or bad & just observing as things unfold. When you let go of labels & just view things for what they are you become a detached observer who is not emotionally involved in situations & you become capable of appreciating the world in a whole new way.
The Power of Mindfulness
By practising Mindfulness & removing ‘what if?’ thoughts from your mind you are no longer stressing over how you could have handled past events, or what you are going to do about potential future events. Mark Twain famously said “I have lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened”. This statement highlights the futility of overly stressing about future events, after all, everything in the future is only a potential outcome until it actually happens. This isn’t to say that you should never look ahead & plans for things, but future planning is best done with a clear head, & not out of fear of the worst possible outcome.
How do you Become More Mindful in Everyday Life?
Mindfulness can seem much more complicated than it actually is. While there are many techniques that facilitate Mindfulness, such as Meditation & Yoga, you do not need to be in a special room or contorted position to practise mindfulness. You can add short snippets of mindfulness throughout your daily routine. For example, while brushing your teeth in the morning. As you undertake this simple activity, usually done on autopilot as you think of something else, force your mind to be present in the moment. Focus on the sounds of the brush on your teeth, the feeling of each bristle on your gums, the taste of the toothpaste, the feel of the handle in your fingers, the coldness of the bathroom floor under your feet, & so on. By focusing all your attention on the stimuli of the present moment you force out thoughts of past & future, & give your mind a break from what if, & a break from stress.
Start Being More Mindful Today!
By practising mindfulness during your everyday routine you gain the neuropsychological benefits of the practise without having to commit to daily meditation sessions. You will also realise how interesting seemingly mundane activities can be when you truly focus on all the sensory stimuli available during these activities. Start by adding a few sessions into your routine & you will soon find yourself becoming Mindful of your surroundings subconsciously, & having greatly reduced stress levels in your life.
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