You must have heard of this term at least once, if not more, and it is touted as the next big revolution in psychology. However, mindfulness is not something new to the world. In fact, it’s been present for centuries in the Eastern cultures.
It has emerged just recently as an idea throughout the Western world, and it’s being praised for its remarkable ability to help those practicing it to cope with any kind of situation in life.
While imagination exaggerates, and reason undermines, mindfulness is there to bring a balance between the two by introducing sense. Achieving mindfulness doesn’t take a lot, but it may seem difficult at first.
The main challenge that you may find is diverting your attention from everywhere and everywhen to the present moment, with a compassionate and non-judgmental attitude. Mindfulness takes practice and attention.
So, here are 7 habits that will help you practice mindfulness. Although they may look simple, practicing them will turn out to be challenging at first, but if you keep it up, these techniques will benefit you for a lifetime.
- Practicing gratitude
Many people take the gifts in life for granted. However, all the joys of the life you live are blessings you shouldn’t overlook. Instead of desiring what you don’t have, practicing gratitude reminds you to enjoy you already have.
This technique is simple, and it takes just 15 minutes. The first thing to do when you wake up is to write down 3 things you are grateful for. You need to be as specific as possible, as this is the key to fostering gratitude.
The purpose of this exercise is to remind yourself of a good experience, event, person, or thing in life and to enjoy the good emotions that come with it. It serves to remind you that even if there are so many things that you don’t have in life, there are as many things that you already have.
- Feeling your palms and feet
This technique will anchor you to the present moment, by focusing on your body. As Buddha once said, “The past is already gone, the future is not yet here. There’s only one moment for you to live.” And that’s the present.
To practice this technique (and you can do it practically anywhere), simply direct your attention to your palms and feet. Notice how your feet touch the ground, feel the temperature of your palms, notice your state of comfort, and really anything else you can notice.
Once you have achieved awareness of your palms and feet, clench your hands tightly into fists and release. Do this repeatedly for some time. Don’t worry if your attention wanders away, just gently return it to the process and don’t judge yourself over it.
- Noticing the environment
Staying in the present moment doesn’t require you to try manipulating your feelings and emotions. All you need to do is simply let go of whatever’s on your mind and start paying attention on what’s around you – and there are so many beautiful things you will notice.
Quickly take your attention away from this text and notice what’s around you. Start small, if you’re reading from your phone, look at the phone, then your hand holding it. As you go further, start noticing where you are, the things and the objects around you – expand your awareness.
Become aware of the objects around you, the colors, the shapes and textures, the sounds… everything. And don’t make any comments in your head on what you’re looking at – just take a moment to become acquainted with your surroundings.
- Breathing deeply
The breath is our natural clock. The faster we breathe, the more tense we feel. It comes with shallow breaths that don’t bring a lot of oxygen, and your focus functions the way you breathe.
Every meditative technique requires you to breathe deeply, and for a good reason. Deep breaths increase awareness, calm the mind down, help you focus more clearly, and bring more oxygen to the body.
For beginning, start practicing by breathing in for 3 seconds and breathing out for the same amount of time. You can later increase the time, but don’t rush, as you may start feeling dizzy.
- Listening, not just hearing
Many times, we are so obsessed with our pre-determined thought patterns that we don’t listen to what others are saying. We quickly develop bias toward the topic and start creating judgements about the person speaking to us.
Next time when you speak to someone, quickly catch those thought patterns and leave them aside. Let the person say whatever they are talking about and listen before you make a default judgement about it.
This focus will let you really notice the things they are saying and will help you achieve a better understanding of the person and the things they talk about.
- Mindful eating
This kind of eating doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to change your diet – that’s another topic. It simply means that you need to experience the whole process mindfully.
When your meal is in front of you, notice the smells, colors, textures, temperature, flavor, and even the sound of your food (crunch!). Pay attention to the whole experience. If it’s a warm meal, feel the way your body warms up when you ingest it.
Feeling your body and experiencing all the senses while you eat will not only let you enjoy the food you eat more, but you will also learn to recognize what food is good for you, and what food you should avoid.
- Mindful showers
Water has a cleansing effect, both physically and psychologically. However, many people forget to really experience the psychological effect of taking a shower. This is a pleasure nobody should miss out on, and it lets you focus on the present.
Next time you take a shower, pay attention to the pleasant warmth of the water gently caressing your skin. Inhale the beautiful smell of your shower gel, and enjoy the sensation of your hands passing over your skin.
With this, not only will your body be refreshed and clean, but you will also refresh and clean up your mind from the negativity it may have gathered up. All in all, a mindful shower is a blissful experience that will last for the rest of the day.
Keep on practicing these techniques and you will see how beautiful the present moment is.
With your awareness of the present, you will soon start to take control of the past and the future – things that not many know how to navigate through.
Source: The power of ideas