You must have heard about mindfulness a lot by now, but you might not know what it entails or how to go about applying mindfulness to your life.
It is actually very simple and requires only that you focus on yourself for a few moments.
What Is Mindfulness?
Being mindful means that you notice the things that are happening inside your body and your mind (for example if you feel discomfort in your stomach when you think about preparing your taxes).
It also means that you are aware of everything that is going on around you, including noticing the little things, like flowers on your way to work that are blooming.
When you practice mindfulness, the key is not to judge or put the labels on things that are happening. Don't label your feelings as bad or good, they simply are.
Being on autopilot is actually a direct opposite of being mindful. Being on autopilot is when you perform your activities without any consideration or thought.
The good example of being on autopilot is when it’s a Saturday and you intended to go to the park, but have headed to work instead.
How can you be certain that you practice mindfulness properly?
Use any moment to focus on the present – while you’re standing in a line, when you’re in your car, or at work. Give ‘single-tasking’ a try. Single tasking means that you are doing one single thing at a time and that you give it your full focus. You can do it even when you do common little things like eating an apple, or flossing your teeth.
Some practical advices on how to be mindful when you have a few moments to devote to yourself, without having to focus on more pressing tasks (such as driving).
The first step is to take a pause and turn your focus towards your body. Pay attention to what you hear and see. Check what you feel, taste and smell. Don’t give labels to these sensations as something bad or good. Just observe them as they are and let them go.
Narrow your attention even more. What are the feelings in your body that you notice? Pay attention to subtle sensations, such as tingling or itching. Give full attention to each part of your physique, at least for a moment. Start from the top of your head and work toward your toes.
The next step is to focus on your breathing. In which part of your body you feel it the most? Keep your attention on that part.
Pause to ask yourself – ‘In what way am I in this moment?’ Recognize your emotions and your thoughts. Give each of them a few moments, observing them as they are. Don’t judge your feelings, simply allow them to be present.
When your mind starts to wander away (which it certainly will), return your focus to your breathing. Don’t beat yourself over losing focus, it is completely normal.
Why should you practice mindfulness?
By being mindful, you will begin to notice when you’re doing things on autopilot. It will allow you to change the course of your actions if need be in that moment, instead of later thinking how you could have done something differently.
For example, your evening pattern might be watching TV and eating chips. If you are on autopilot, you will repeat this pattern everyday without giving it a second thought. By being mindful, you will be able to break the course of actions on autopilot and stop to think if you could perhaps choose some different option. You might end up taking carrots instead of chips, or skip watching TV entirely and taking a walk to the park.
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