Our lives, over the ages, have become extremely stressful. Work, family and peer group responsibilities, future plans; there are a number of things on our minds at any given time. Only when you attempt to sit down and think about how to de-stress your life, you actually realize that you can’t think clearly because your mind is cluttered with chaos.
Modern day Gurus swear by the new way of life called “Mindfulness”. Its practitioners claim that mindfulness should be made into a habit and we should aim to live our lives effortlessly by it.
So what exactly is mindfulness? Mindfulness is a state of mind; a state of awareness where you are completely present in the moment. Like the name suggests, it actually means minding what we are doing. Very often we realize that we are not actually doing what we are supposed to do. Sometimes sitting in a meeting, we realize that we missed most of what the speaker had to say because our mind was too busy planning something else.
The same happens with family time. Quite often there are times that we miss all the fun at family dinners, because we are either too upset about something that happened during the day in the office or we are absent minded and planning the next day.
The point is that we are never mentally present in the moment and in all this mess, we miss the precious moments of life and wonder where all the wonderful years went by. Practicing mindfulness has become the trend of 2014 and beyond. It is being widely practiced in the corporate world, especially in Silicon Valley. The experts say it should be practiced by everyone; corporate and non-corporate individuals alike.
A lot of research is being done to support this practice, and fortunately so far, a lot of positive reports have come from it. All the experiments deem mindfulness to be very effective when it comes to health problems related to both the body and mind.
Benefits of a Mindfulness life :
Concentrating on the task at hand brings a lot of peace to the mind. It might well be because a person is more efficient when he is fully focused on the task at hand. An enhanced efficiency leads to good results, which in turn leads to peace and a genuine feeling of satisfaction.
So, without further ado, let us now understand how mindful people achieve this peaceful and productive state of mind. The following are a few methods that one should follow. These methods are being widely practiced to tap into this new state of awareness within our minds.
Take a Walk
People all around the world who practice a mindfulness life try and take a walk in the woods. A simple walk in solitude adds various perspectives to our thought process and helps to clear up our mind. According to a study conducted in 2013, it is a proven fact that walking in the woods (or equally serene place) puts our mind in a peaceful and meditative state. This activity also promotes reflection which helps us find solutions to our problems.
Make it a Habit
Mindfulness is practiced best when you make it a habit. Rather than practicing it for a few minutes every day, one should incorporate this as a habit in everything one does. This forceful implementation of mindfulness in the daily activities actually works wonders for our mind.
For example, if you are working; stay there. DO NOT WANDER OFF to what you will be cooking for dinner. Or if you are having your evening tea, try to enjoy each and every sip by completely savouring the taste, observing the heat and how every gulp is soothing you. In short, be fully aware of what you are doing.
Make time for Creativity
Engaging in creative activities opens up the channels of awareness. Most people struggle with mediation and hence don’t achieve proper results. So, why not practice what you love doing the most? CREATE. Creativity corrects the ebb and flow of the mind and usually puts it back into a very peaceful state. Practicing creativity can solve a lot of your problems. Pick up anything that you love; cooking, dancing, playing, etc.
Practice Breathing Techniques
Any yoga teacher can tell you that by controlling your breathing, you can actually control your mind. Our breathing mirrors our state of mind. If it’s fast, our mind is tensed, if it’s slow and calm, our mind is normally at peace. So, one of the best ways to attain mindfulness is to continually practice deep breathing.
Don’t Multi Task
Nothing kills our concentration like multi-tasking does. When doing so, our mind is usually all over the place and we end up compromising everything altogether. Mindful people thus avoid multi-tasking and instead focus on one task at a time.
Experiments have proven that we only show an efficiency of 50% while multitasking and take almost double the amount of time than usual. The best way to do multiple things is to concentrate on a single task at a given time and then a take break and switch to the next one.
Lose your Mobile Phone
Today’s generation spends a lot of time checking mails and talking to other people in some way or another. One aspect that adds to our stress level is over communication. Hence, it is best to know when not to be available.
When with family or on a vacation, leave your phone back home or at least switch it off for the most part. This will ensure that you focus on the time at hand and not worry about what you left back in the office.
Another useful habit that the experts suggest is not to check your phones just before going to bed and immediately after waking up. This will ensure that you sleep well and wake up feeling fresh. Take time to do other things before you dive into your work schedule.
Nothing soothes a mind more than doing something new. Today we are all tired of our routines, which again, is a state of mind. To break out of the never ending circle of work-home-work, you should try something new.
A new activity that challenges your mind and gives a fresh perspective towards your day can be anything from taking up a new game to simply opening yourself up to a new concept or idea at work. Opening your mind to new experiences take you to a new level of consciousness and it pushes you a little more towards mindfulness.
Like already discussed, nature has a way of soothing our nerves. Whenever we are out, our eyes take note of various things and, in turn, they send multiple signals to our brain. This process itself activates a number of cells in our brain, which takes us out of our normal routine thinking methods.
Spending time with nature ensures that our mind gets a complete flush and we come back feeling fresh and energetic. Green beautiful landscapes ensure that our stress is busted and also improves our memory, attention and energy levels.
Plan to take up new activities like trekking, swimming, paragliding, camping, etc. The list really is endless.
Be True to Yourself
One of the most important things to do while practicing mindfulness is to be true to yourself. The concept of mindfulness fails if you end up pretending to feel something when you are actually feeling something completely different. If you are sad, so be it. Be present in the moment, think it through and give some closure to it, so that you can start with new feelings as soon as this is over.
Pretension usually puts us in a confused state of mind. Accept whatever comes to you, whether it is good or bad, and go through it with a positive state of mind.
Try meditating. It is the best remedy for all modern stresses. According to the experts, it is a sure shot method to attain mindfulness. Meditation simply works like magic.
Meditation is a very old practice and has developed over many centuries. It comes with its own unique set of benefits. Experts believe that meditating is such a strong method that it can even alter gene expression of a person. Try meditating if nothing else. It will bring you closer to yourself and help you live your present life full of vigour.
Junk foods, love them? Who doesn’t? But did you know that unhealthy foods affect our mind as well? Most of us have developed bad eating habits which have in turn troubled our body over a long time. An old saying goes like this “A healthy body houses a healthy mind”. So, be aware of what you are eating. Also, be mindful in the process. Take time to relish the food and actually feel it benefitting your body.
Laugh it Off
Why stress so much? Has stress ever helped anybody? Or has crying solved any problems; ever? If you hear yourself saying no, simply laugh it off. It’s not worth it to spend all your time worrying and planning and in turn stressing out about something.
Let go of everything. And most importantly, do not take yourself seriously. One of the best discoveries of science has been the fact that laughing releases a chemical in our body that fixes various common health problems. A cheerful personality is often the healthiest way forward for the both mind and the body.
Laughing also helps us to be mindful. An experiment has shown that a hearty laugh soothes our mind the same way as meditation does.
Let your Mind Wander
Mindfulness is just a happy state of mind; a state where your mind is completely in sync with your heart. There are no conflicts anywhere. Ironically, so far we have been talking about staying in the moment, but at this point, you should let your mind wander.
All of us will agree that at times nothing sooths our nerves more than a good session of day dreaming. Imagination is an excellent exercise for our brain. It opens up a lot of creative channels. Hence, it is important to let go of the present sometimes and take the time to find a connection between you and your inner self.
Consciousness in today’s world has become a forceful activity, when it should actually come naturally to us. It will take time for you to think over the points discussed in this article. You will actually notice that this is how our ancestors lived, and how our older generations taught us to live. Mindfulness is no exact science. It is how our life should be.
Break free from whatever is holding you back and become mindful today, start living a balanced LIFE.