5 Ways to Practice Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness in itself is very simple – it’s about letting go rather more than anything else – the hard part is being consistent, regularly finding the time. Why not try out some of the following suggestions for yourself? All we ask is that you reserve judgment until you’ve given some of the tools a try for at least 3 weeks.
Reserve quiet mindful time every day
Having some quiet time every day is the most important way to practice mindful living, don’t get me wrong, I understand how hard it will be. But, commit to some form every day for at least ten minutes or more. By being deliberate, you strengthen your mind’s ability to be more aware and awake.
Fundamentally if you want to be more mindful, you will need to consider daily training, it’s just like any discipline it requires practice and effort. The best comparison I can make is with exercise, if you want to become fitter, you need to exercise your body on a daily basis. If you only exercised once a week, would you be as fit as the person who exercises daily?
Practicing mindfulness on a daily basis can be as simple as sitting still and feeling the sensation of your breathing, practicing some yoga or simply sitting and observing the world outside, be that in the garden or your living room with no one else around.
Here are some ways to ensure that you remember to be mindful everyday:
Practice at the “same time” and ”same place“ Every Day. This way the discipline becomes a routine, just like brushing your hair. You just don’t have to think about it.
Put reminders around your home; on your mirror, diary, computer or phone. Use it to signal an opportunity to do some meditation.
Connect with people
First impressions count, the majority of us have been to a job interview at one time or another and know that within a split second, you judge a person. You may think, I don’t like that persons hairstyle or who would wear those shoes. The moment you make that initial judgment, you begin to look for evidence to support your theory. If they don’t look you in the eye properly, or fail to say thanks, you take those moments as evidence and your opinion becomes more fixed. Then you create an image in your mind.
Instead, why not consider when you meet someone, connecting with your senses rather than your ideas. Look the person in the eye in a natural way. Listen to what they have to say, rather than thinking about what you’re about to say. Be curious and ask open ended questions rather than imposing your own perceptions too much. Put yourself in that person’s shoes, how would you feel? What would you want to hear?
Listen to unpleasant emotions
How do you connect and engage with the wonder of being present and living in the moment if you feel down, upset or annoyed? In these situations, don’t try to impose a different emotion on what you’re experiencing. Be in the moment. Open up and connect with the emotion as best you can. Be mindful that all emotions have a beginning and an end – try identifying the feeling as a temporary visitor.
In addition, try and separate yourself from the emotion. The emotion will naturally rise and fall but you can maintain a sense of stability and more emotional balance if you remain separate from it.
Hypothetically, someone turns up at your front door and “ding dong” the doorbell sounds. You decide to ignore the sound. The bell rings again and again. You get frustrated and try all sorts of ways to distract yourself from the sound of the doorbell, but you can’t (sound familiar?). By simply opening the door, you can stop avoiding the issue, employing all your avoidance strategies. You’re facing your fears, being empowered rather than running away.
Be mindful, let go
Here at Wave, we believe constant change is inevitable! Consider this, If everything is changing, then trying to hold on to anything is bound to result in disappointment. Therefore we suggest the more you hold on to something, the greater the disappointment when it’s lost. As such our antidote to this holding on, this attachment, is to let go.
So the $64,000 question, how do you let go? If you were holding a pen in your hand, and someone asked you to let go, you’d just let go. However, if you don’t know that the pen is in your hand, it’s different. You can’t let go of something you’re not aware of.
Letting go happens more naturally when you’re aware. You may be walking around with tension in your shoulders, but as soon as you become aware of the tension, some of the tightness may get released. Difficult as it may sound, try not to worry too much, trying too hard to let go often leads to more tension. What we are trying to do is turn letting go into a goal.
Forgiveness is another way of letting go. When you forgive you’re letting go of past hurt and pain. By forgiving others, you’re freeing yourself more than anyone else.
Breathe and smile!
The muscles in your face link with your feeling of happiness. When you’re happy, you smile – but you know that already. However, did you know that smiling can make you feel better? Try it right now, no matter how you feel. Go on! Try a subtle, gentle smile as you read these sentences. Just try it for the next 60 seconds and commit to memory or ”a grey cell”, as my old Maths teacher used to say, what effect the smiling has.
You can apply this technique of connecting with your breathing and smiling gently in a systematic way every day for 10 minutes, or better still while you’re going about your daily activities. In this way you can be mindful doing whatever you’re doing, be that washing up, writing a report or simply standing / waiting in a queue.
Listen, you may feel reluctant about smiling right now because you don’t think it’s genuine. I get it, you’ll smile when you’re happy, not now! But give it a try. Yes, you’re bound to feel unnatural in the beginning but that feeling will soon disappear. Just give it a try, even though it feels strange. See what happens! ‘Fake it till you make it!’
Mindfulness isn’t about forcing yourself to feel better – it’s more about bringing a sense of awareness, curiosity if you will, to your feelings and thoughts and gaining insight from them.
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