Using mindfulness to create a life well-lived and fulfilled – The 101 guide on mindfulness and how it can be life changing
Every day to work, you can see people reluctantly heading over in almost a zombie-like look. So many of us are here but not here, living but not really living. Why are some living “the life” and some still struggling to live life?
With mindfulness, you can change your life to bring about more fulfilling relationships, moving towards your life goals and releasing yourself from unconscientous negative emotions.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness means that you’re living in the present. When someone is mindful, they’re aware of and paying attention to the current moment and not thinking about the past or the future.
This requires practice. To live your life purposefully, you will need to keep practicing mindfulness. It is like building muscles, you have to consistently exercise to build up the desired muscle set (for bodybuilders).
Are you on Autopilot?
Have you ever driven from one place to another and when asked about it, you somehow cannot remember how you got here?
Sounds familiar? You are probably running through the activity on autopilot. Autopilot is not good nor bad. It is a habitual action that allows us to go into a semi-conscious state but yet complete the action we want to do. It’s amazing how our body works and what we can do. However, to go through life on autopilot is a red alert on mindfulness.
Sign of an autopilot life
- Have you ended a day and wondered what you have done?
- Do you often say time flies and wonder how come it is the end of the year but yet feel a sense of no accomplishment?
- Do you repeat your days in a similar fashion all the time (for e.g. wake up, work, eat lunch, work, eat dinner, go home, watch TV, sleep.. repeat)?
- Tried to recall what you ate for dinner but wondered what was it and where did you have dinner?
Practicing mindfulness will put a stop to allowing the mind to go blank. It is really not too hard. Awareness plays a big part to become mindful. When you realize that your mind has wandered too far, you simply bring it back to focus on what you want to do.
Benefits of Mindfulness
Mindfulness started in Buddhism and in Hinduism thousands of years ago. It was practiced by the monks and yogis to enhance spiritual connectivity, and also mental alertness, calmness and overall stability in oneself.
Today, many studies have proven that mindfulness can help you create your best life. This includes a holistic improvement in your physical, mental and emotional health.
1. Live Fully In the Present
Being present can help soothe your emotions and strengthen your immune system. Mindfulness can be practiced with various types of meditation that will help to focus on self-awareness and generating peaceful thoughts.
Being mindful helps to center the practitioner. Gradually, the thoughts pattern will change and you will start to choose to live in the present rather than focus on the past or get caught up in what might happen in their future.
2. Mindfulness Can Help You Make Better Choices
Some choices you made are derived from emotions, fear or out of ego. The choice to choose a materialistic pursuit is one example. These are choices that are cloaked and decided with the past experience or for future gains. Typically, these choices will not give the best outcome.
This can impact your entire life (For e.g. getting married, getting that new house, car). When you practice mindfulness, you can make better choices that are derived from the heart and this will change your life to be the one that you feel purposeful and fulfilled.
3. Mindfulness helps to cut down unconscious calories
One of the areas where mindfulness can help you is in the area of eating. Yes, it is true that it can help you cut down calories. Many people eat countless times a day without feeling that they have eaten.
This is because the eating often happens together with another action like watching a N
You skip the taste of the food, the splash of favor from the different ingredients and this can also lead you to make go for saltier, spicier food to make up for a “dull” tastebud. Such food typically is fast food, frozen food or the food from the food truck downstairs.
You missed out the positive emotional connection with the food. The pleasure of chocolate or the soothing feeling of chicken soup. Imagine biting into a plump juicy fresh burger with truffle mushroom? I am sure you can imagine out the truffle taste right now. This is the emotional connection that we have with food!
4. Mindfulness improves relationships
One core area where mindfulness can help is in your relationships.
When your relationships are good, you feel light, happy and overall better physically and feel less stress. The opposite can happen too. Practising mindfulness can help to add harmony to your relationships.
With mindfulness, you will pay attention to the people closed to you, eliminating any unhappiness due to a lack of attentiveness. You will also become more present and respond calmly during unhappy conversations to resolve them quickly.
With attentiveness, it will help you to listen better and understand what someone else is saying, feeling and implying. It helps you to create empathy and remove defensiveness that can be the main blockage in relationship problems.
Mindfulness can help you to focus on the present moment and reduce your dependency on the past or future. You seek to ease a tension rather than justifying someone’s reason due to his/ her past behavior or future action
By tuning into the people in your life, people will enjoy interacting with you and building stronger bonds with each other.
5. Mindfulness increases productivity
Being in the state of mindfulness will surprisingly make you more productivity. You can stay focused if the present rather than being scattered all over.
Ever thought about what’s for lunch during a meeting? Well, that’s our scattered brain going all over! Perhaps the meeting was boring or were you simply not listening at all?
Mindfulness helps you stay on track. It is easy to start working on something, and get distracted with your Instagram notification. “Oh someone followed me!”, you go on yo check on who is this person who followed you and forgotten about the task on hand.
You end the day thinking why your task was not done. If it’s a task with deadline, your stress level increase as time is tickling but you have yet completed the milestones you set for yourself.
Staying in the present is what mindfulness can give you. With focus, you’ll do what you deemed prioritized and move towards creating the best life for yourself.
Being Mindful is a Natural Therapy for Mental Health
Have you seen a puppy run around when it is outside? It is like a mini chaos outside. Our brain is the same. Without some form of training, the mind goes around with the good, the bad, the past, the present and the future. Did you see it’s skirts around everywhere, giving you little time to react?
Mindfulness is the training to discipline the mind. Instead of dwelling on the negatives and constantly perceive all situations in worst case scenarios, the mind can be trained to look at the good and find a silver lining in the cloud.
There are many distractions for the mind. It has endless external stimuli- the dog that parked. The kid who is crying.. the plants which you have forgotten to water and looking withered…
In an instance, the mind will zoom into all these stimuli. We can’t help it. Millions of years of evolvement have conditioned the mind to go on a fight or flight mode and every stimuli is taken as an alert to see if danger is ahead. An
As a form of survival, the worst case situation will pop up in our mind. When the mind goes off loose, it’s inevitable that it will go south towards negativity resulting in much unwanted stress. Prolong stress and negativity will lead to depression, loneliness and the little dark hole that can be dangerous when ventured too deeply in.
Getting out of Negativity
Our mind likes to victimize ourselves. We indulge in self pity and feel sorry for what others have done to us. With the social media boom with everyone showcasing the best in everything, it feels like our life is far from that someone else who seems to have it all.
Without mindfulness, our mind will venture into this cycle of negativity of not being good enough. A low self esteem and a lack of self love.
Use mindfulness to counter such negativity and corner this imaginative mind to think about the positive stuff that happened to you. That’s why there are Gratitude diaries around, it is used to train our minds to focus on what is good and not what is not good or not enough.
Stress and anxiety stems from the future. When you get stressed from the upcoming deadline, you get anxiety for the lack of work (due to all the distractions that we have in our daily lives). You become angry and bitter when things don’t go your way.
Well, that’s what exactly happened to me when I was in school. I wanted to complete a project assignment. While it was given a month again, I procrastinated and was left with 1 week to complete it. Within the 1 week, I panicked and started working past midnight to make up for the loss of time. I get distracted at the beginning of the week with some social media, outing with friends. Today the last 3 days of the deadline, I started having anxiety attack and was rather incapacitated to do anything else. I managed to finish the work albeit full of regrets that it was not well done.
Practicing mindfulness can help you focus on the main task on hand and manage the stress, anxiety that we face from our external stimuli.
4 Common Techniques for Mindful Practices
There are several techniques that you can use to harness mindfulness. Thefirst one is meditation. Most people are familiar with the basics ofmeditation. To practice mindful meditation, you need a comfortable place to sitdown.
1. Focus on the breathing
We often take breathing for granted. Be mindful of your breathing and consciously feel the breathe in and out. Pay attention to each inhale and exhale to bring you back to the present.
This is the start of a mindful meditation. Every time when there is a thought, notice it and let it pass.
The act of taking mindful breathe is something not taught in schools. Practice breeds familiarity and with more and more awareness, you may notice a difference in your energy level and being in a state of calmness.
2. Being mindful by focusing on an object
The object technique is a technique used to help maintain the focus level. To do this, you can pick up an item. It can be anything still. Common items used are candle, a pot of plant and fruits.
Keep your focus till all you can see is that item. Notice when your mind wander and return back to focusing on the item to bring up the mindfulness practice.
3. Walk to become more mindful
Walking is another common technique used to build mindfulness.
To start, find a place that you can walk without any blockage. Focus on what is around you. The trees, the water stream, the birds or insect flying past. Look around and use your 5 senses to be present.
Breathe as usual and be mindful of your steps. Walk barefoot if possible to feel the surface of the ground. Feel connected to the ground. Walk and continue to build up your senses while walking around.
Snapping Yourself Out of a Past or Future Focus
What’s happened has happened. No one can change it. It’s is comforting to recall the past, treasure the memories and for us to feel nostalgic. It can be vice versa, anger, regrets and pain.
Being in the future is the same too. The future not here yet. You want to experience the things that are going on now and not be in a state of constantly of not being.
The past is the past
When you get stuck in the past, you miss the chance to create your best life and you settle for less with pain or the pride of it used to be.
The future has yet to come
While it is good to set intent as a trajectory for your life, it is not the same as being consistently in the future. To experience the best life, it is important to be in the present. To take that action that will direct you towards your intent.
Live in the Present
There are times you need to be in the past or future but not all the time. This is especially applicable if you are grieving (to be in the past) or setting intents to achieve in the future.
Be mindful not to overindulge in either the past or the future. You will be stuck in a time limbo that nothing moves.
When you notice such behavior or pattern exhibiting, do one thing:
Try one thing at a time
When you are working, do one thing at a time. If you are writing an article, finish a milestone first, like writing an outline of the article and stopping to see what to do next.
If you are eating, chew carefully and savor the taste of the food.
Pay attention to the person who you are talking to. Have a hearty engagement.
Most of us zoom through the day, weeks and months thinking achieving more is better but what is more? And what good does doing more give you?
Remember to always take a breather. Think about what you want to do and has done. Reflect upon it to learn from any lessons. Grow as you move through these experiences.
If you are as busy as a bee, one good way to make you stop and take rest is to schedule rest time in your physical or mental calendar.
When you feel overwhelmed or when you feel like you have no time to think, rest or even sleep well, you are packing too many things in your life.
Physical decluttering is a rage now because of Marie Kondo. How about mental decluttering? Or schedule declutter? Don’t wait till the next guru to remind you to do that. Do it now and take time to be present for yourself and the surrounding.
There are many beautiful things around us. A smile on a kid’s face. A light fresh breeze. The warm sunshine shining on you.
Be present for yourself and you will be surrounded by love, happiness and positivity.
My list of personal recommendations for more articles on mindfulness. Enjoy!
- www.ted.com |How to tame your wondering mind (video)
- The Harvard Gazette | When science meets mindfulness
clinic|Mindfulness: 17 Simple Ways to Ease Stress
Mindfulness Can Be Life Changing
When you allocate time to practice mindfulness, it is a step to create the best life that you deeply desire. When practising mindfulness, you’ll start to notice that many people are still in autopilot mode and be grateful that you are out of the autopilot grid.