“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).”
~ James Baraz
Have you ever found yourself getting frustrated while meditating, overwhelmed by your daily tasks, or anxious about things to come? There are many a day where heads get in the way and life gets the upper hand. We get irritated, quick to anger, succumb to negative emotions and act outside ourselves and no one wants to live like that.
Without realizing it, our actions, rushing from moment to moment, reflect our minds dashing from one thought or moment to the next. Our minds are with us wherever we go and they are always at work, assessing our surroundings, interactions, and perceptions. We try to keep up, but we can’t actually move as fast as our minds, which is one of the reasons mindfulness is so important. Don’t fret because mindfulness is possible and one of the keys to a balanced life.
What exactly is mindfulness? It is attention on the here and now as it is. As understood by Noom, mindfulness is “the practice of observing our thoughts as they arise without any judgment, criticism or latching on, and simply letting those thoughts pass by like clouds against a clear blue sky.” In short, is a practice of staying ever-present.
In an attempt to keep up with our minds and things happening around us, we miss the big picture and sadly, the present. Sure we may need to make decisions fast and in a hurry, but as our minds sort through everything they’re receiving, we will not understand fully until they’re done processing. In the meantime, mindfulness keeps us centered in the present moment.
As of late, I have been trying to be more intentional about how I’m treating my mind. It’s easier to see physical treatment than mental. However, both are equally important and if the mind is not right, nothing else will be. Mindfulness can be beneficial in all aspects of life from losing weight to attaining career aspirations.
This has lead me to scouring virtual spaces on how to practice being more mindful and I have found that most practices come back to these simple and familiar concepts: unconditional acknowledgment, manner of treatment and sure action.
Practicing mindfulness can have an incredibly positive impact on your life. While being present may sound easy, following the three avenues for practicing mindfulness will take effort and commitment. If you are here, you already on the right track.
You have to allow yourself to be– JUST BE. Acknowledge thoughts, feelings, and situations for what they are, and don’t try to tackle them all at once. See it and give time for acceptance without overwhelming yourself right away. Thoughts will wander, life will happen, and when it does– let it. These things can be no more controlled the tides and currents of the ocean.
One of the key points to staying present is that observation without judgment. There are a variety of tools and techniques that can be turned to avoid being absorbed by future worry and past events. There is power in simply noticing. When something is acknowledged or noticed, actions can be changed. This is especially true in acknowledging an emotion and deciding how to respond afterward.
Manner of Treatment
Treat yourself with loving-kindness. Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself time to get there and in the meantime, pat yourself on the back for where you are now, what you have accomplished, and get excited for what’s to come. Sometimes we can be our biggest nay-sayer, bully, and obstacle. Stop it and get out of your way.
How are you treating yourself now? Do you chug down your coffee, or do you take a moment to sip and indulge in the aroma? Do you beat yourself up, or do you work your thoughts out on paper and leave them there? Do you fall into road rage in traffic or do you put on your favorite podcasts? The manner of treatment is not only inward but outward, in how we treat situations and other people.
Practicing mindfulness helps promote a healthier lifestyle by encouraging positive emotions and habits. There are proven benefits such as reduced anxiety, stress, and depression. The activities you incorporate into your lifestyle from practicing mindfulness encourage you to stop and form spaces for your mind, body, and spirit. In these spaces, you can do what you like. There is a separation in the present that helps you be aware and appreciate life at that moment.
Are you sure? I was listening to a podcast episode by Tonya Leigh on goals and decision making, and she said to ask yourself two questions, one was, are you sure? It’s okay if you are not sure. However, when you are not sure, you need to get sure or let the thought go. You can only put a hundred percent effort into things you know to be sure and right for you.
In being mindful of our actions, it’s important to know if they are sure and also if they are beneficial and purpose-filled. Intentional and sure actions will garner a different result than chaotic and irresolute ones. This applies to all actions no matter the size. There are many activities we do throughout the day that we can enhance by simply being more mindful, like setting a relaxing environment for savoring a nice meal. I am a firm believer in the power of a good meal.
Take time to renew your spirit, set your intentions at the beginning of your day, and create spaces through the day to check in with your thoughts. Get your body moving to pump some positive hormones and energy. Most importantly, don’t forget to treat yourself every now and then. In doing so, you’ll find that the courses of your days will run brightly.
Just as with any new practice, mindfulness is something that will take time and with discipline can become a good habit that adds value to your life. Mindfulness is a practice that anyone can incorporate into their lives. Remember you don’t have to jump in with big changes. Small tasks are just as impactful over time. Keep building on being mindful and dedicating time to creating conducive spaces for yourself.