Do you ever race through life struggling to keep up?
It’s about that alarm clock going off in the mornings, a quick jump in the shower, an even quicker rush through breakfast, and the oh-so-disturbing traffic on your way to work when you’re running late.
It’s that busy “busy-ness” that pushes you through the day, that fight with your colleague, that emotional roller coaster as a work project lives then dies, where you come home and vegetate in front of the TV, waiting for your brain to slow down enough to go back to bed and try again tomorrow.
Your emotions are frayed. Your mind is a clutter. Forgotten about the moment? Need to step aside and remember the greater picture?
Mindfulness is about intentionally letting it all go… and pausing to feel the NOW.
For example, instead of being anxious about a bad day at work, a practitioner of mindfulness intentionally takes a deep breath and simply backs off. They let all thoughts go. They let suffering go. They create space between themselves and their reaction, creating room enough for calm and healing and… well, add a dozen positive nouns to this last sentence.
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and aware of what surrounds us without being overly reactive or sensitive. It also takes the practitioner to a place of wisdom, objective observation, and peace. Studies show that it augments resilience. It warms up emotion. It calms thoughts. It relieves depression, anxiety, panic, anger, and stress. It helps with physical health. It promotes satisfaction with life. For those who seek fulfillment, it offers depth. For creatives, it accesses the muse. For the spiritual, it connects with the divine. If you haven’t tried it, it’s worth taking a look.
Below you’ll find 3 mindfulness exercises that might help you live forever. Perhaps not quite “live forever,” but yes, they can improve life as you know it. Dramatically. First we’ll start with a couple tips.
New to mindfulness? Here are some hints
- Safe place. At first, find a place where you can finish your mindfulness exercises without being disturbed. With time, you’ll be able to practice it anywhere.
- Daily. Set aside time everyday to do the exercises. These techniques become more effective and easier if you practice them often. The goal is to slip into mindfulness on command — anywhere, anytime.
- Feelings. You don’t have to feel bad to practice these exercises. We recommend you do them no matter how you feel.
- Distractions. Thoughts, memories, worries, physical sensations, noises, and other distractions might come up. No problem. Simply relax, acknowledge the distraction (“That’s a thought,” “That’s a noise”), and let it go. Don’t beat yourself up when your mind wanders. Each time it happens, do the same three steps: relax, acknowledge, and let it go.
THREE MINDFULNESS TECHNIQUES
There are many ways to practice mindfulness. The general goal is to deliberately focus on the moment. Mindfulness can involve looking, listening, feeling, immersion, appreciation, and other sensory experiences. Here are 3 examples.
Rather than anxiously finishing a daily chore in order to get onto something else, consider taking the task and actually experiencing it. Consider mowing the lawn. Instead of rushing through the task, pay attention to each step and immerse yourself in the process.
Pay attention to every sensation, one sensation at a time. Feel your muscles tighten and loosen as you move. Notice the vibration of the machine against your hands, the loud roar of the motor, the uneven ground, and the scent of fresh cut grass.
What else do you notice? What do you hear and see? What do you smell, taste, and feel? Consider the sun over your head, the slight wind, a neighbor waving as he walks by. Take the activity beyond the “normal” by aligning yourself with it physically and mentally.
Single-tasking can enhance any activity. Stuck in traffic or flossing your teeth? Try single-tasking. Touching a partner, eating a raisin, listening to a song? Try single-tasking.
Meditation allows your mind to rest. It gives you a chance to exist outside the negative aspects of your life and simply be. There are different types of meditation. Here is one method.
(1) Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Forget the past and future, and let your mind focus on the present. Some people find it helpful to focus on their breathing. Breathe slowly, comfortably. If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the breath.
(2) Widen your focus. Bring your attention to the sounds in the room. What do you hear? Listen to each sound individually. If there is a medley of noise, focus on one sound at a time. Explore what you hear. If you hear someone talking, listen to the sound of their voice, not what they’re talking about. Don’t judge what you hear. Simply listen. Every time your mind wanders, relax, acknowledge it, and gently bring it back to the noises in the room. Continue this for as long as it feels comfortable.
(5) When you’re ready, refocus your energy on your breath. Breath normally, slowly: Breathe in, breathe out. After a few minutes, when you’re ready, open your eyes.
Got a few free moments? Try mindfulness meditation. Whether you’re waiting for the elevator or sitting in the doctor’s office, this can be a powerful tool to have in your arsenal.
Consider being mindful the next time you talk to someone.
As the other person speaks, be 100% present. Do nothing but engage. Forget the past and future. Forget everything but the moment. Focus on what the other person says, the meaning of their words. Do so without criticism or jumping to conclusions. Step back from the situation and seek to understand their point of view. Each time you feel an emotion or reaction bubble up, relax, acknowledge, and let it go.
Nonjudgmental stance is particularly helpful during difficult social situations. You know you’ve achieved a mindful stance when there’s no overwhelming anxiety or dread associated with painful conversation. Mindfulness allows you to switch into another state of mind, a place of peacefulness outside the storm. Ultimately, the goal is to participate without all baggage that comes with stressful scenarios. Mindfulness connects your feet with the ground. It allows for compassion. It helps you make wise choices. In tough situations, that’s a godsend.
Mindfulness is the ability to stay in the present — without judgment or drawing conclusions. Forget about the past. Forget about the future. Forget about the situation. Just be. Just feel life.