Practicing mindfulness is something that gets stronger every time you do it. I first started practicing it when I was going through a really stressful time in my life, and I don’t know how I could’ve gotten through that time without these practices. I would listen to “Meditainment CDs” that would help guide me in taking control of my thoughts. I’ve listened to them so much, that I could literally recite the first 15 minutes. Basically, mindfulness is taking control of your thoughts in order to enjoy your life better. Mindfulness is using non-judgmental, precise determination to pay attention to the details of our experiences. We can get so caught up in our thoughts that sometimes they control everything we do without even knowing it. So, it is important to regain control and start focusing on the here-and-now. Once you can control this, you can eliminate negative thoughts, false guilt, and the ailments of stress.
So, I encourage you to take a step with me to practice one of these each day for the next week.
Create a mental list of all the things you are grateful for in your life. Write them down and look at them throughout the day. Approach your homecoming and the people you come home to, with peacefulness and gratitude.
Notice your environment: sunlight, rain, the wind, trees, sights and sounds. On your way to work, school, an appointment or your daily errands, be mindful of driving your car, walking, sitting on the subway, arriving at your destination, your state of mind and your thoughts. Are you in the present moment or thinking ahead to what you will be doing next? Notice your body, and let your breathing help you relax your shoulders, soften your face.
Approach meals with mindfulness and gratitude. Really taste what you are eating. Engage all of your senses. Eat them sitting down, rather than standing up or in your car or on the run. Taste every morsel of food and enjoy the aroma and texture of your food.
Allow yourself to be calm and peaceful. Use daily cues as reminders to be mindful: the doorbell, the telephone, a mindfulness bell on your computer, turning on a light, checking your watch or a clock for the time. Every time you hear a cue, mentally become aware of your breath. Throughout the day notice if you are holding your breath, breathing shallowly or deeply...Focusing on your breath and breathing deeply and smoothly is one of the single most effective ways to be present – if you are paying attention to your inhale and your exhale you are in the present moment, aware, mindful.
Notice when you can stop the pressure of pushing to get where you are going and simply enjoy the process of getting there. If you find yourself feeling anxious or impatient, focus on your breathing. Stuck in traffic? Waiting in line? Rather than getting upset, look at this as a perfect opportunity to become mindful, focus on your deep inhale and exhale. You will immediately feel calmer and less stressed.
Commit to taking 15 minutes today to sit and be still. Set a timer, sit comfortably and simply observe your thoughts as they pass through your mind. Become aware of your thoughts and without any judgment, allow them to float, like a cloud out of your mind, coming back to your inhale and exhale.
Whatever you experience in this world, whatever you think and feel, breathe it in, then breathe it out. Be conscious and aware of your experience, without judging. Just be. Just breathe. Live freely in this state of mindfulness.