‘Tomorrow’– the most thought about day in our life. ‘Yesterday’ is probably the second most. We keep trying to dwell on our past or contemplate what will happen in the future. By doing this what we miss out on is what we are experiencing today- now – at this very moment. That is why it is so taxing to survive a single day with a hopeful, positive, and healthy attitude.
Thinking about the past and the future is the only source of stress. There is no other way to get stressed in our life. If only we could get some magic potion that’ll make our mind stronger and relieve our stress.
Good news for us! There is such a potion called Mindfulness. Not exactly a magic potion, but an ability that’s hidden within us, something that will give us freedom from this stress and even a way to tackle and overcome it.
What is Mindfulness?
Kabat-Zinn described mindfulness as paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally.
Its meaning is quite evident from the word itself. Doing everything mindfully; with complete focus and concentration in it. As straightforward as the meaning is, it’s equally difficult to practice. It’s the depth of mindfulness that brings true meaning to the concept. Mindfulness is about being fully present and attentive in this very instance, being aware of where you are, what you are doing, and focusing all your senses into the very moment you are living while accepting it without judgement.
How can we practice mindfulness?
Mindfulness is not only about sitting in one place with incense sticks and focusing on your breath. It is just the beginning of it. It is more of a lifestyle in which everything you do, you do it mindfully. Let me walk you through a couple of examples:
- Mindful breathing- This can be done anywhere. Whether you are standing in a queue, traveling, or sitting down. Start with deep breathes. Observe how you are inhaling and exhaling the air. You might end up thinking of various things while you are attempting to do this. Simply acknowledge the presence of those thoughts, and just return to watching your breath. Regular practice of mindful breathing has a lot of benefits. It helps you to calm down, be more aware, be more in present, increase alertness and helps you to be at peace.
- Mindful listening- “To listen: to pay close attention with a quiet heart, with a waiting, opened soul, without passion, without a wish, without judgment, without an opinion” (Siddhartha by Hermann Hess). Mindful listening cannot be explained in better words. To have a completely open mind when you are listening. Mindful listening is listening without an objective to respond. Mindful listening sets a stage for effective communication which becomes a path for understanding and forming deep meaningful connections.
- Mindful thinking- There are times when there is a train of thoughts that is a deep spiral downwards and it feels like there is no way out. Try to simply observe those thoughts as they are without judgment. Do not try to analyze, or contemplate on these thoughts. These thoughts are neither good nor bad, they are neither black nor white; they simply exist. These thoughts are often the cause of distress. Simply noticing those thoughts without actively participating helps you to not get overwhelmed by them.
Learning to be mindful is a powerful skill. It will be a strong support while facing stressful situations. It will help you maintain a healthy mental and physical life. Practicing mindfulness does not need you to go out of your way. It can be practiced anywhere at any time. Mindful living helps one to experience every moment fully and appreciate it too.
It’s also a way to get unstuck and get back our insight and wisdom. It’s a path that will lead us to take control of the quality of our life. We ruin our present moments for the sake of the uncertain future on which we have no control. If we devote ourselves to pay attention to our present with no judgment, prejudice or opinion, we have a chance of living our lives to the fullest.
Every single day we hear about some new disaster like wildfires and cyclones just to name a few, all of them happening in the middle of the biggest crisis we’ve faced in our lives-the pandemic. It has made us realise just how short our lives are and how valuable each day is. It’s the perfect time to make an effort and be mindful!
Take it easy,