What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is an ancient Eastern art and way of purposely bringing awareness into the present moment without judgment. The purpose of Mindfulness is to strengthen the mind. When you strengthen your mind, you can rise above fear and experience a life of freedom. It is a common belief that you need to constantly engage in meditation to practice mindfulness. However, mindfulness can be practiced with any activity during any part of the day. Some say the very practice of Mindfulness makes something meditative. Below you will find ways to overcome difficult days, a look into judgment, and quick and easy ways to be mindful.
Mindfulness, A Challenge (at times)
You will find while you are practicing mindfulness that some days are harder than others.
It is important to realize the harder days are the days that you are changing your brain the most.
This is often when you want to give up this practice; however, challenging yourself to continue is the most important thing you can do.
While the easy days are awesome and reflect your growth, persevering on the difficult days will bring bigger rewards.
Free From Judgement…
What is judgment, exactly? When it comes to Mindfulness, judgment is the attachment of positive or negative to any given thing or idea.
If you are mindfully observing your thoughts and you have an anxious thought, “what if my car got stolen?” and then you label the thought as bad and then you start getting angry with yourself for having a bad thought, the labeling of the thought as “bad” is a judgment. Replaying the different scenarios, etc. in your head is preventing you from just being.
Conversely, this works for good thoughts as well. “She is really pretty,” while a “nice” thought, creates an attachment to one’s image.
Any time we create an attachment to something, the ancients believe we suffer.
It is best to think of everything as being neutral because everything has both good and bad attributes. By thinking in terms of neutrality, we release attachment and become free.
To release judgment, if something pops up that you might normally label as “good” or “bad,” think to yourself, “Hmm, that is interesting.”
The term interesting is neutral. Additionally, the idea is to get to a place of curiosity rather than judgment. This is an easy way to be mindful instantly.
Additionally, when we approach an idea from a place of curiosity, we allow ourselves to explore it in different ways.
Mindfulness, Inner Dialogue
Once something interesting pops up, such as a thought or pattern, we can take it a step further and ask, “Hmm. I wonder who/what made me believe this?”
For example, while practicing Mindfulness, you find you get scared
when you drive, ask yourself, “What is it about driving that makes me feel fear?” And go from there. Keep digging.
You may find while you are practicing Mindfulness the dialogue between you and yourself almost sounds like you and a therapist.
This is a sign that things are going well. If you continue with your Mindfulness practice, you may be able to heal deep, subconscious issues.
Easy Ways to be Mindful Throughout Your Day
When You First Wake Up
Do you ever wake up feeling anxious about your day? Simply observing the thoughts that come up, labeling them as interesting, and curiously asking yourself why you might be experiencing these thoughts can have a profoundly positive impact on your day.
Practicing Mindfulness when you eat is a wonderful way to get started with this ancient practice. You want to experience your food on all levels using your five senses (sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound).
Additionally, you want to observe your thoughts as you eat. Incorporating Mindfulness into mealtime can drastically improve your relationship with food. For a post I wrote on eating Mindfully specifically, click here.
Have you ever experienced road rage? What about general anxiety while driving? Observing your thoughts while driving can improve the way you drive.
Maybe you have a subconscious fear you will get into an accident? Practicing Mindfulness while driving can help you get to the bottom of any fears you may experience, whether consciously or subconsciously.
Do you find that certain tasks at work bring about certain emotions? Are you finding that when you work on the finance reports, you always get hungry or need to eat a snack?
Is it possible you are wanting to avoid any task? What is it about this task that makes you want to avoid it? When this happens, it is adviseable to bring yourself back to the present moment. Engage your five senses. Can you feel the subtle breeze from the AC vent? What does the office smell like right now?
Chatting with Others
Certain people trigger different things within us. This mainly happens on a subconscious level.
Does Sally bring out your competitive nature? Perhaps something about Nathan makes you feel at peace? Maybe Bob brings up feelings of unworthiness?
When we engage in discussion with others, practicing Mindfulness can get us in touch with our inner psyche and help us to heal. It could be it isn’t a particular person, but a specific subject or discussion.
Do any of these things make you want to leave the conversation? Why? What was it about whatever was brought up that makes you wish to flee?
When loving mindfully, it is important to engage all five senses. How does your partner taste? Smell? Feel? What are the sensations in different areas of your body?
If your heart could speak to you about the experience, would it say you are free? Happy? Is anything you are engaging in (thought process or physical) heightening any particular physical sensation?
Energetically, how does this person make you feel? Energized? Depleted?
Loving Mindfully can improve intimacy with your partner and increase the physical sensations you experience.
Going to Sleep
Suffering from insomnia? Feeling anxious about tomorrow? Ruminating about something that happened today?
Watching your thoughts when going to sleep can be very helpful in figuring out what is bothering you and it can propel you into a state of relaxation. Doing conscious breathing exercises can help bring you into the present moment and experience the deep sleep you desire.
As you can see, mindfulness practice can be incorporated into every moment of the day. Come up with your own easy ways to be mindful, whether you are in the shower, getting ready for work, or running in the park.
As you work through the difficult days, you strengthen your mind, like a muscle. This helps you increase your brain’s power and live a life of freedom and happiness. If you would like to know more about Mindfulness, here is a book.
Wishing you the best on your journey,