Mindfulness is starting to become a common theme these days, especially in dealing with stress. Popularized in the East by religious and spiritual institutions, mindfulness is carving its path in the West and being slowly acknowledged by science due to its enormous health benefits.
But mindfulness has been around for thousands of years. To this day, programs are established around mindfulness to reduce stress and regain life balance.
With regards to this, questions may arise as to how to start mindfulness practice or do we really need to go through a two or three week retreat just to become mindful. These questions could be answered by understanding what mindfulness really means.
Mindfulness is defined as the mental state that is achieved when you bring your awareness in the present moment while totally acknowledging your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations.
By being mindful, you notice how your thoughts sway from past to future. And the goal is to bring these thoughts in the present moment without judgment. And you need to stay present as much as you can. The ultimate goal is to always be present.
Achieving this goal takes lots and lots of practice since we are living in a fast paced society. However, there are a couple of easy habits and steps you can do every day that will give you a shortcut to mindfulness. And you won’t even feel it as a big effort.
In fact, by doing these steps you will make mindfulness a habit and a default state of being without even noticing how you achieved that.
5 Easy Steps To Make Mindfulness Your Default State:
1. Start being mindful in your pleasant moments.
While mindfulness is a great tool in combating stress, starting in stressful situations is rather difficult. Don’t practice mindfulness to fight against stress; practice mindfulness to enhance your happy moments.
Say, you’re having your morning coffee or cuddling with your loved one at the end of the day. These are great moments to be truly and fully present.
Focusing on the present moment is much easier when your happy hormones are at its peak. You’ll be much better prepared to face the difficult stuff as soon as they arise.
2. Pick one easy routine where you can be mindful.
You surely have many routines all throughout the day. Brushing your teeth, walking the dog, picking up your kids from school, driving or commuting to work, or reading your favorite book are just some of them.
Instead of thinking all the things needed to get done throughout the day, try to bring your focus in what you’re doing and be there.
Inevitably, your mind may wander from time to time, but you can gently bring your focus back once it does.
3. Observe your breath.
Though breathing is a necessity, we often forget all about it while actively doing it.
In mindfulness practice, breathing is key in bringing your awareness to the present moment.
Simply take a long deep breath and notice the air that comes inside your body while expanding your abdomen and contracting it as you breath out.
Doing this 3 to 4 times calms your mind and helps your body to relax.
4. Feel your physicality.
Another simple way to be mindful is to anchor yourself in your body. Clench your hand into tight fists then release. Do it again. And again. And again.
Transfer your attention to your feet. Clench the muscles in your feet then release. Do it again for several times.
This physical anchor of self awareness helps you in staying present.
5. Notice your surroundings.
Whether you’re in your office or at home, take notice of your physical surroundings. Notice the smell of the place. Feel the chair you’re sitting on.
Put your palms on the table and notice how hard the surface is. Look at the walls. Notice its color, whether it’s painted light or dark.
Or if you’re outside, look at the color of the sky. Look at the plants and feel their energy.
If you put yourself in the present moment, things start to have importance and be alive. This is what mindfulness is all about.
When things are difficult as they sometimes will, stay in the present and feel your emotions. Staying in the present makes you face every situation more effectively with fewer frustrations and lesser pains than before.
And if you want to deepen your mindfulness practice, you can learn from books or you can seek out help from meditation teachers.