It’s hard to stay present these days.
Sometimes, you might feel like the only thing in life you want is to actually be happy and satisfied. But most times it feels like you’re running on a pedestal — moving, but not going anywhere in particular.
There is a tweak to your daily habits that you might hear already, but never truly registered what it meant. It’s being mindful. You might hear this so many times before, that you don’t even pay attention anymore. Mindful who? I don’t care. Let me be.
Well, even though the term is being thrown left and right nowadays, being mindful can significantly improve your life. Understanding how awareness works might not be easy at first. But once you’re at peace with yourself you won’t strive to come back to the chaos you experienced before.
“You are not IN the universe, you ARE the universe, an intrinsic part of it. Ultimately, you are not a person, but a focal point where the universe is becoming conscious of itself. What an amazing miracle.” — Elkhart Tolle
Buddhist monks have been practicing these rituals for centuries. They might be on to something with their ways. “Mindfulness is the key to happiness,” says MD Judson Brewer from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in his Ted Talk.
What Being Mindful Really Means?
If you look at the dictionary you might find a hardcoded definition like;
“The practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiance on a moment-to-moment basis.” — Merrimam Webster
Being mindful means that you’re present in ‘right now’ and that you can take control of your actions — not just react to the world of stimuli.
Practicing mindfulness changed my life. Up until 2015, I couldn’t get outside my head. I was anxious and lacked focus and general direction.
Striving to be present thought me how to take control over my life. It taught me the complex nature of our existence. It taught me how to be happy and satisfied(well, not all the time — that would be silly — but the improvement is undeniable).
I react to stress with ease now. And relationships with my family, my friends, and new acquaintance are just getting better. I feel like I gained the compass to navigate life more freely.
Stop to the Sign of the Bell, Close Your Eyes and Listen to the Wind
There are mindfull retreats all around the world. The most famous one in Europe is probably the Plum Village monastery in southern France. The same name applies to the teaching of Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn and the Plum Village Tradition. Plum Village as a tradition can exist in the world.
One of the great lessons from the Plum Village Tradition is in the way they ring the mindful bell(in the village it’s the real bell, but you can use the Plum Village app or any reminder) to signal you to stop with everything you’re doing and become present for a minute. The bell reminds you to simply exist.
These pauses provide an opportunity to reconnect with yourself and the present moment. They help you maintain focus on what’s important in your life.
When you hear the sound of your reminder, take a deep conscious breath, close your eyes and slowly build awareness of the space within and around you. Listen to your heartbeat, feel the weight on your legs and relax your shoulders.
Focus on One Thing at the Time
Multitasking is not your superpower. You might feel like you’re going to accomplish more if you work on multiple things at the time, but the studies have shown otherwise. The research published in the Journal of Experimental psychology states that our overall productivity drastically falls when switching between tasks before they’re finished. It takes time to build up the concentration for the next task and shut the cognitive functions used for the last one.
Reaching mindful state is in this little tweak to your daily habits — stay focused at what you do right now. If you’re writing, don’t scroll through your phone. If you’re brushing teeth, don’t watch YouTube videos. If you’re cooking, just cook.
Being focused will relieve you of stress and you’re going to reach a state of mind where nothing really matters except what’s in front of you.
Meditate More Often
There is a reason why so many successful people preach meditation — because it works.
Oprah would apparently stop the whole production on her show(before air, of course), and tell everyone to take time to meditate.
One of the most famous comedians in the world Jerry Seinfeld talks about how morning tantric meditation helps him energize and establish laser-like focus.
I can tell you that meditation helped me with writing the other day. I was sleep deprived after only four hours of nighttime rest and I wanted to finish two articles before breakfast. My mind was derailed and my inspiration just hit the brick wall. I turned the guided meditation video on YouTube, plugged my headset, struck a lotus pose on my bead and for twenty minutes I tried to focus on my breathing and posture. I finished both articles before noon.
Practice Being Present Everywhere, Especially in Good Company
Try to observe the world around you in everything you do. Try to be right where you are, right now. Walking down the street could be mesmerizing experience and it won’t take any of your precious time.
“In this world, the most important person is the person in front of you.” — Confucious
When you’re in the company of others, don’t think about the stuff you have to do, or what you might have for dinner. Don’t flip your phone and check your messages religiously. Stop, look them in the eyes and listen.
People appreciate when you’re with them. They will feel your company. They will like you even more. In turn, you’re going to feel loved.
The term mindful might not be taken seriously nowadays, because it’s everywhere(there are coffee mugs and shirts with mindful quotes).
Mindfulness means being present at the moment and living life in ‘right now’. The future might be anxious and the past might be embarrassing, the present is the only place where you can reach true peace.
If you get in touch with yourself you only stand to benefit. Mindfulness is preached by many highly successful people and it’s believed to be one of the key ingredients for happiness.
My life has changed significantly since I became more aware of myself and the world around me.
Take a moment in your day to stop and breathe, don’t multitask and listen to the most important person in the world.