We’ve all heard of mindfulness. Usually we see it preached by yogi’s and spiritual minds who have learned the concept from Buddhism. In this post I won’t be discussing mindfulness as a Buddhist concept, but rather, as a method that I have adopted to appreciate my life. So, here I am not discussing mindfulness as a unique concept, but simply the idea of being mindful, as the definition suggests, and how that manifests in my life. Of course, this overlaps in many ways to the Buddhist concept, but my version is simply how I practice mindfulness in my life – without restrictions and preconceived notions. When you learn to be mindful, you begin to see the true beauty and perfection that make up this world we live in.
HOW TO BE MINDFUL
• Be Present. Be aware of what is happening in the present moment. Feel your senses and emotions. Don’t focus too much on the past or the future – although in moderation thinking about the future and the past is necessary and wonderful. Being present will allow you to take part in every minute of your life. Be aware of what you are feeling, when you are feeling it. Be aware of what you are sensing when you are sensing it. Smell the fresh scent of oranges as you slice them. Feel your blankets wrap around you and warm your body as you climb into your bed. See what is happening around you. Instead of allowing your mind to narrow and focus only on single tasks, learn to be aware of everything. That one thing you are working on is very rarely worth missing out on the life of your child or the love of your spouse. Many people, late in their lives, realize that they are bored with their day-to-day lives. If you are present and aware of what is going on around you, you slow down to smell the roses, you dance to your favourite song while you cook, an you enjoy the warmth of a hot shower, your life will not be boring – I assure you. You will see that this will come naturally with practice. You will become aware of what is causing you certain sensations, and you will not miss out on this beautiful life.
• Be Appreciative. When you take in what is going on around you, you are being present. You must use your senses, listen to your thoughts, feel your emotions, and appreciate them. Appreciate that you get to have access the beauty of the scent of a rose, or the refreshing sensation of a cool breeze on a warm day. Appreciate the relaxing feeling of a deep breath. Also, appreciate the present. See that it is temporary and it will soon be gone. This does not mean a simple ignorance of anything negative such that you only see the positive things. It simply means that no matter the emotion that exists at any given time, you should appreciate what there is to appreciate. I cannot tell you what those things are, you must find them in your own life. Open your eyes and see them, and you will find them. In my life, I often fail to be present, and thus, fail to appreciate my husband as a wonderful, kind and loving human being, and often see him as just another part of my day, or worse, an opponent. When I am present and being appreciative of my life and all that is a part of it, my heart is full of love and compassion for my wonderful husband, I see what is beautiful. In this category I would like to suggest that you try to appreciate the beauty of silence. Take some time each day to be alone. It is not necessary to be religious or spiritual at all, simply take some time for yourself, sit in the quiet and be alone. Continue to be present and appreciative. When you miss out on this valuable part of your day, you can often miss out on your valuable life. Days pass without much thought, without much drive. Use this time to have silence, and to reflect on your thoughts and most importantly, the purpose of your life. If you don’t know what your purpose is, find one. If you don’t have a purpose, a reason for being present and appreciative, and all of these things, they will only be empty concepts that will pass away. When you have a purpose, these methods will help you move closer to your purpose, and appreciate the journey that is your life.
• Be Honest. Do not ignore your emotions. Feel them. If something upsets you, feel that. If something is making you feel anxious or frustrated, think on it a while. Do not push these feelings aside for “positivity.” These are valid, necessary emotions. Take part in them, understand them, this is healthy. Yet, while you are taking part in them, continue to be present, and continue to be appreciative, and these problems will not have a profound negative affect on your life. The kind of mindfulness that I employ in my life is a raw mindfulness, I do not try and create fake happiness for myself, I want true joy and to achieve this I must be honest with myself about how I am feeling.
• Be Thoughtful. Think. Use your brain. Contemplate. Dream. Form new ideas. Thoughtfulness affects every single aspect of your life. If you are thoughtful, you will find excitement and renewed appreciation in every single day. Thoughtfulness, like all aspects of mindfulness, is a habit. Too often we let our brains turn to mush, we do what we are told or what we think we should be doing. Don’t do that. Don’t coast through life simply letting it happen as it will. You are the one in control of it, you can always change it. The great philosopher Socrates has taught us that “the unexamined life is not worth living” and that the examined life is worth dying to defend. Live the life that you want to live.