the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness in the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and acknowledging one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
In a world full of noise and distractions, it is hard to be mindful. It is hard to be present.We are constantly being bombarded with information as well as social pressures to be ___ or do ___.
It is hard to be mindful in the world of smartphones, high-speed internet, and Netflix, but it is not impossible.
In this article, I’m going to give you several techniques you can use to improve your mindfulness on a daily basis. Mindfulness, like any other skill, takes practice.
Meditation is perhaps the easiest and most efficient way to improve your mindfulness. Meditation allows us to learn how to be present and teaches us how to monitor our thought patterns.
I have been practicing meditation for about four months now and it has proven extremely helpful. I have found myself feeling less anxious and stressed on a day-to-day basis.
During meditation, you focus all your attention on either your breath or your bodily sensations. Doing so allows you to be completely present, rather than getting lost in thoughts about the past or future.
If you are new to meditation, I recommend checking out an app called Calm.
2. Do Nothing
A huge part of mindfulness is becoming more aware of how you think. You can do this by simply sitting down and your room and letting your mind run. It may be best to do this by staring at one spot on your wall, that way you don’t get distracted.
Take time to pay attention to your thoughts.
What are you thinking about?
Your to-do list?
What you did last night?
The more we quiet down and listen to our thoughts, the more aware we will become of them, and with awareness comes the ability to change the way we think.
3. Savor Your Food
Often when we sit down to eat we are either watching television or on our smartphones. We get so focused on what other people are doing that we don’t even take the time to really taste what we’re eating.
Next time you eat, just eat. Take time to really enjoy your food.
This is a great way to practice being present. Even more so, it will help you generate gratitude for the food you have on the table.
4. Do One Thing at a Time
To truly be present means to have our minds fully engaged in what we are doing right now. This is impossible if we are trying to do multiple things at once. In fact, the attention span of humans has become even shorter in the age of social media, according to the Telegraph.
Here are a few ways you can practice doing one thing at a time:
- Don’t listen to music when you clean. Practice just cleaning. This will help you learn to live in the moment.
- When you’re working, turn off your phone if possible. You don’t want to be scrolling through Twitter while you’re doing a project.
- When you’re with a group of friends, do your best to really listen to every word they are saying. Be fully engaged in the conversation, rather than letting your mind carry you to another place.
5. Keep a Journal
Another way to become more aware of your thought parents it to keep a journal. When you journal, just put whatever is in your mind into the page. No filter.
After your finish writing, look back on what you wrote. What does it tell you about yourself? Are you thinking mostly negatively or positively?
The more self-aware we are the more mindful we can become.
6. Quite Down Your Life
Like I mentioned in the introduction, our lives are constantly becoming more complicated as we are feed more and more information.
One way to stay mindful in this era of distractions is to learn to quiet down your life. Set time aside to escape from the news and social media. Take time to go on a walk or sit outside.
Sometimes it is wise to turn off the television and music and just sit down and read a book.
When we learn to quiet down, and at times power down, we can finally become truly present.
7. Get Out of Your Own Head
The opposite of being present is to be lost in thought. It is important that you learn to get out of your own head and live in the present moment.
You can accomplish this through meditation and through simply redirecting your attention in a given situation.
Here’s an example.
You are reading a book but you keep thinking about a test your have tomorrow. Simply and gently redirect your attention onto the book and stop thinking about the test.
This is not easy, but with practice, you can improve.
It is important that you don’t become angry with yourself during this process. Mindfulness is nothing without self-compassion. When you find yourself being distracting, gently bring yourself back to the present moment, extending loving-kindness towards yourself.
8. Don’t Let Your Thoughts Control You
For a long time, I believed that I was in control of my thoughts and that it was my responsibility to think the right way.
Now I’ve realized that thoughts, for the most part, are fluid. They are not really under our control. They come and go no matter what.
Because of this, the most important way to overcome negative thoughts is not to change the thoughts themselves, but to change the way you look at them. If you begin to realize that your thoughts are just a stream of consciousness, you can start to stop believing thoughts that prove to be untrue or not useful.
For more information on why we cannot control our own thoughts, check out this article from the Scientific American.
The more mindful you become the easier it will be for you to be productive and happy. Living in the moment is the best way to live. If your mind is focused on the past or present, you will not be able to enjoy the beauty of now.
Now is the only thing you can change. Now is the only time that really matters.