“Do you have patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself? – Lao Tzu
Are you simply moving through your day, without fully living?
I did this for many years. It was as if life were just passing by, and I was waiting for something to happen. I always felt like I was preparing for something later.
But today isnt preparation for tomorrow. Todays the main event.
How can you bring calm and peace to the middle of a stress-ful, chaotic day?
The answer is simple, though not always so easy to put into practice: learn to be present.
No matter how out-of-control your day is, no matter how stressful your job or life becomes, the act of being present can become an oasis. It can change your life, and its incredibly simple.
The idea of being mindful being present, being more conscious of life as it happens seems a bit impossible to many of the super busy.
But not only is it possible, Id submit that its desirable, and that itll help the busy (and non-busy) achieve their goals and enjoy life more fully.
So, What is Mindfulness?
My own definition of mindfulness is very simple:
Mindfulness is the gentle & soft effort to be continuously present with the current flow of experience.
Jon Kabat-Zinns definition of mindfulness:
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way;On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.
WOW – Paying attention “on purpose
Here is another definition by Juliet Adams, Director of A Head for Work:-
He explains as The ABC of mindfulness
A is for awareness Becoming more aware of what you are thinking and doing whats going on in your mind and body.
B is for “just Being with your experience. Avoiding the tendency to respond on auto-pilot and feed problems by creating your own story.
C is for seeing things and responding more wisely. By creating a gap between the experience and our reaction to, we can make wiser choices.
The benefits of Mindfulness include
Helping individuals to:
- Recognize, slow down or stop automatic and habitual reactions.
- Respond more effectively to complex or difficult situations.
- See situations more clearly
- Become more creative
- Make clear & effective decisions
- Achieve balance and resilience at work and at home
Since the late 1970’s there have been more than 1000 publications documenting medical and psychological research on mindfulness which demonstrate its validity and breadth of application.
How to Be Mindful
1. Do one thing at a time. Do Single-task and a big NO to multi-task. Remember the Zen proverb: “When walking, walk. When eating, eat.
2. Do it slowly and deliberately.
3. Do less. If you do less, you can do those things more slowly, more completely and with more concentration.
4. Spend at least 5 minutes each day doing nothing. Just sit in silence. Become aware of your thoughts. Focus on your breathing. Notice the world around you. Become comfortable with the silence and stillness. Itll do you a world of good and just takes 5 minutes!
6. Stop worrying about the future focus on the present. Just focus on what youre doing, right now. Enjoy the present moment.
7. When youre talking to someone, be present. Focus on being present, enjoy your time listening to that person.
8. Keep practicing. When you get frustrated, just take a deep breath. When you ask yourself, “What should I do now, Self?, the answer is “keep practicing.
“When you drive around the city and come to a red light or a stop sign, you can just sit back and make use of these twenty or thirty seconds to relax to breathe in, breathe out, and enjoy arriving in the present moment. There are many things like that we can do. – Thich Nhat Hanh
Some Simple Mindfulness Exercises
Here are few exercises which I practice regularly. You dont need to do all of these, but give a few of them a try to see if they make your day better.
Mindfulness Exercise # 1- Do One Action Mindfully – Coffee Meditation
For me, preparing my morning coffee is a mindful meditation. I am completely with myself right from the time I get into the kitchen, open the refrigerator, pick the milk cover, pick the scissors, cut the cover, pour the milk in the vessel, keep the vessel on the stove, throw the cover in the dustbin, put the scissors back into the shelf, pick up the lighter, heat the stove, open the coffee powder can, putting the coffee powder in the coffee maker, fill a tumbler of water, pour into the coffee maker, switch on the coffee maker, continue my breathing practice until the milk boils, mindfully look at the milk rising to the brim, smell the aroma of coffee, pour the decoction into the tumbler, pour the milk into the tumbler, open the sugar can, add a teaspoon of sugar, stir it, see the coffee swirling around, drop the spoon in the sink, close everything, hold the coffee in the hand, feel the warmth in your hand, feel the aroma, switch off the lights, mindfully walk with the coffee to the study table, place it on the table, look at it for a moment happily, gently sip the coffee, feel the hot coffee down into your throat & getting energized – This is called Coffee Meditation.
BTW, did you feel the coffee in your throat now, if so you were mindful reading this article, you should pick one short action which you do every day and perform that action mindfully. For example, if every day you walk to the door, open it, and bend down to pick up the newspaper, start doing that action mindfully.
Mindfulness Exercise # 2- The Room In Your Head
This is an amazing technique thats recommended by Karla McLaren for bringing all of your attention to the same place. Karla indicates that you should mentally create a room in your head. Decorate the room however you like. Your eyes are the windows. Make sure that theres a comfortable chair in the room.Whenever you feel your mind leaving the present moment and wandering off, visualize yourself coming back into the room in your head and sitting in the chair. At the moment in which your consciousness is “sitting in the chair, your mind and body become one, and youre fully in the present.
Mindfulness Exercise # 3 – Mindfulness Cues
Choose something in your environment that you will use as a trigger to remind you to bring your mind back to the present. For example, each time that your mobile phone rings, stop the mental chatter that keeps you stuck in the past or that fills you with anxiety about the future, and allow yourself to come back to the present moment.
Practice this every time your phone rings for the next 7 days.
Mindfulness Exercise # 4 – Bring Your Awareness to Your Breath
The simplest way to bring your mind back into the present moment is by focusing on your breath. Each time that youre about to start a new activity, bring yourself fully into the present moment by doing the following:
| Bring your attention to the breath sensation.
Allow yourself to feel the breath as it goes in.
Then, allow yourself to feel the breath as it goes out.
For one, two, or three breaths, focus as much attention as you can on the sensation of breathing.
Mindfulness Exercise # 5 – Break Your Patterns or Routines
There are many things that we do the same way over and over again, day after day. These activities present a great opportunity for the mind to wander. After all, you dont have to think about these things: you can do them on automatic pilot like brushing the teeth. You can bring more mindfulness to your day by breaking your patterns and routines.
Here are some examples:
- If you normally brush your teeth with your right hand, try brushing with your left hand.
- If you jog/walk/drive along the same route every day, try a different route.
- If you add sugar to your coffee/tea, try drinking coffee/tea without sugar.
- Reverse the order in which you do things. For example, reverse the order in which you towel yourself off, combing your hair etc
When you break your patterns or routines, the novelty of the situation will force your mind to pay attention. That is, it will bring your mind into the present moment.
Practice, repeatedly, in small easy beautiful steps. Each step is a wonder in itself, and each practice helps you to find that calm in the middle of the traffic of your life.
Mindfulness – one stop solution to all your sufferings & success!