5 Ways to Practice Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness is very simple – it’s about letting go rather than doing anything else – but the difficulty is in practicing mindfulness consistently. Try them out for yourself and hold back your judgment until you’ve given the tools a try for at least a few weeks.
Spend some quiet mindful time every day
Having some quiet time every day is the most important tip way to practice mindful living. Connect with some form of mindfulness practice on a daily basis, preferably for ten minutes or more. By deliberately practicing mindfulness every day, you strengthen your mind’s ability to be more aware and awake.
If you want to be more mindful, you need daily training, just as when you want to become fitter, you need to exercise your body on a daily basis. If you only exercised once a week, you wouldn’t benefit as much.
To practice mindfulness on a daily basis can involve sitting still and feeling the sensation of your breathing, or doing some yoga, or simply sitting out in your garden and looking at the trees and birds with a warm drink before starting work.
Here are some ways to ensure that you remember to be mindful everyday:
Practice at the same time and place every day. This way the mindfulness discipline becomes a routine like brushing your teeth and you don’t have to think about it.
Put reminders on your mirror, refrigerator, computer or phone. When you see the reminder, do a little meditation.
Connect with people for mindfulness
In the first instant that you meet someone, within a split second, you judge her. You may think that she’s too fat or too thin, or she reminds you of someone you don’t like. Your mind instantly tries to categorize, which is why first impressions are so important in interviews.
The moment you make an initial judgment of a person, you begin to look for evidence to support your theory. If she doesn’t look you in the eye properly, or fails to say thanks, you take these moments as evidence about her, and your opinion becomes more fixed. Then you create an image in your mind.
When you meet someone, connect with your senses rather than your ideas. Look the person in the eye in a natural way. Listen to what she has to say, rather than thinking about what you’re about to say. Be curious and ask questions rather than imposing your own perceptions so much. What would you be like in that person’s situation? How would you feel, and what would you want?
Listen to unpleasant emotions for mindful living
How do you see the wonder of the present moment if you feel down, upset or annoyed? In these situations, don’t try to impose a different emotion on what you’re experiencing. Be in the present moment and open up the emotion as best you can. Remember that all emotions have a beginning and an end – try seeing the feeling as a temporary visitor.
Additionally, see yourself as separate from the emotion. The emotion rises and falls but you maintain a sense of stability and greater emotional balance.
Imagine someone turns up at your front door and rings the doorbell. You decide to ignore the sound. The bell rings again and again. You get frustrated and try all sorts of ways of distracting yourself from the sound of the doorbell, but you can’t. By simply opening the door, you can stop all your avoidance strategies. You’re facing your fears, rather than running away.
Be mindful and let go
Constant change is the nature of the universe. If everything is changing, then trying to hold on to anything is bound to result in disappointment. The more you hold on to something, the greater the disappointment when it’s lost. The antidote to this holding on, this attachment, is to let go.
How do you let go? If you were holding a ball in your hand, and someone asked you to let go, you’d just let go. However, if you don’t know that the ball is in your hand, that’s different. You can’t let go of something you’re not aware of.
Letting go happens more naturally when you’re aware. You may be walking around with tension in your shoulders. As soon as you become aware of the tension, some of the tightness may release. Also, don’t worry too much, trying hard to let go only leads to more doing and more tension. You’re making letting go into a goal.
Forgiveness is another way of letting go. When you forgive you’re letting go of past hurt and pain. By forgiving others, you’re freeing yourself more than anyone else.
Breathe and smile to be mindful!
The muscles in your face link with your feeling of happiness. When you’re happy, you smile – you know that of course. But did you know that smiling can make you feel better? Try the process right now, no matter how you feel. Simply hold a subtle, gentle smile as you read these sentences. Continue for a few minutes and note what effect the smiling has.
You can apply this technique of feeling your breathing and smiling gently in a systematic way every day for ten minutes, or while you’re going about your daily activities. In this way you can be mindful doing whatever you’re doing, whether washing the dishes, writing a report or waiting in a queue.
You may feel reluctant to smile right now because you don’t think that it’s genuine. You’ll smile when you’re happy, not now. Try it out. Yes, you’re bound to feel unnatural at the beginning but that soon goes. Just give it a try, even though it feels strange, and see what happens after a time. ‘Fake it till you make it!’
Mindfulness is not about forcing yourself to feel better – it’s more about bringing a sense of curiosity to your feelings and thoughts and gaining information from them.