Mindfulness, very simply put, is being aware. When you are completely aware; of your self, your surroundings, your now, you’re fully living life! Moment after moment, life is in constant motion. Most of us are too caught up in the past or future that we forget the present is all we have. Practicing mindfulness is the first step to living life fully, and here are 5 simple ways for you to get started.
1) Notice Every Breath
Also known as mindful breathing, this is the basis of most mindfulness exercises. Sounding deceptively simple, you’ll be surprised at how often your thoughts wander, rather than letting you focus on your breaths. All you have to do is sit down (preferably at a quiet, comfortable spot), and close your eyes if you like. Breathe as you do normally, but feel the expansion and contraction of your chest/stomach with each inhale and exhale. If you can, take note of the gaps between each breath as well. The best part is that you can do it anywhere and everywhere, as long as you have a little time to spare!
2) Observe Your Thoughts
Do you ever notice that your thoughts are basically like another person who’s telling you what to do inside your mind? Once you are preoccupied with your thoughts, it’s difficult to come back to the present. However, you can remedy this by observing your thoughts. Imagine yourself from the third person point of view, watching “the voice” tell “yourself” all sorts of things. Pretty soon, you’ll notice that it never shuts up, and that’s not healthy. By creating a distinction between “yourself” and “the voice”, you acknowledge that the voice is just that – a voice – and you don’t have to do everything it says.
By now, you already know that life will not always unfold the way you want it to. Instead of engaging in wishful thinking, why not just accept the current situation? That’s not to say accepting is giving up. If you can do something about it, do it. If there’s nothing you can do, then just accept it, let go, and move on. Many of us waste precious time thinking thoughts such as “I wish that…” or “I should have…”. What has happened has happened, and denying or resisting it won’t undo it; you’re only putting yourself through more suffering. It’s time to open up to the idea of acceptance.
4) Be in the Now
As with the other points, this is easier said than done, and it requires a great deal of observation and practice. Whenever you’re doing something, try to really immerse yourself in the experience, and notice what you’re doing. For example, as I’m typing this, I’m looking at each individual letter appear on the screen, and each finger hitting the keys on the keyboard. Have you ever gotten into the car, and reached your destination without remembering how you got there? That’s how distracted you are. A great way to practice this would be in the shower by observing how the water feels, how the soap smells etc.
5) Establish a Routine
If you do it enough times, it becomes a habit, and eventually, a lifestyle. Start by setting aside a few minutes of your time each day to engage in the above activities, preferably without any distractions. Before you say you don’t have time, really? Take 5-10 minutes out of your TV time or phone-scrolling time; that’s all you need. Getting started is always the toughest, but if you persevere, you’ll reap the benefits of mindfulness in the long run! Tip: Set yourself a daily reminder so that you’ll never forget!