Knowing how to practice mindfulness throughout the day gives you a precious gift – living in the present moment. The more we live in the present moment, the less emotional suffering we experience.
There are two stories within each one of us. The first is your journey, meaning your real-life experiences. Although every experience becomes a memory, frame of reference, hopefully wisdom, it is also your truth – your story.
The second story (or stories) are the ones we tell ourselves. These stories steal us away from the present moment. This type of story is your assessment from your experiences. Your analysis. It’s a self narrative and too often times it is a judgement maker.
Those stories, predictions and reenactments you tell yourself only cause emotional suffering because they prevent you from being in the present moment. They virtually prevent you from living. So how do you control that inner dialogue?
What is suffering, really?
You see suffering, in a mental, emotional or spiritual (sometimes even physical) sense, does not necessarily come from bad experiences. When you experience a sense of unease, discomfort from within, insecurity or an overall state of discontent – you are suffering. Most often, suffering occurs when you allow your thoughts to control your emotions.
Allow me to very briefly digress for a moment and tie this together with Own Your Best. Owning your best translates to many areas of living your best life. Whether through a physical competition, managing a challenging situation, aspiring to a short-term or long-term goal or finally controlling a thought-process in navigating your life day after day – the only tool anyone needs to know is how to practice mindfulness meditation throughout the day – everyday. The gift of mindfulness is often swaddled up so tight it’s difficult to unwrap – but have faith, you have this life changing gift – so let’s begin!
An important component in achieving the Own Your Best mission is that you are can rest in the knowledge – in the FACT – that you are sharing the absolute best version of yourself with the world – you own it. The only path to this ability is to be in a state of conscious ownership of your mind which is what leads to the self empowerment and peace in all that follows – the proactive practice of mindfulness throughout the day.
So here is what you need to know about using your mindfulness gift – the Practice of Awareness:
- Practice Awareness of Yourself… Without Judgment
- Look around at where you are in a physical sense but try not to react
- Reflect on where you are emotionally – without negative talk
- Practice Awareness of Your Breathing
- Notice your breathing and asses what you need to do
- Slow it down if needed
- Take a deep breath while a count to three while pausing on each number (the 3rd breath being your deepest); then Exhale in smooth gradual intervals while counting to 5
- Practice Awareness of Your Surrounding
- Observe and enjoy the seemingly ordinary – trees, raindrops, clouds, the flame of a candle, laughter
- Recognize the beauty and wonder in your presence – reflect on what is in your line of sight
- Practice Awareness of Your Senses – Scan your body
- See the beauty in nature as much as the beauty of the children’s small shoes in not in the closet
- Smell the fresh bread, the flowers essences in your bath or simply the wet doggie galloping into the from the rain
- Hear the laughter of a child or the whistle of a train
- Feel the coolness of your bed sheets or even the clothes on your own body
- Taste the hot coffee or cool ice cream down your throat
- Practice Awareness of When Your Thoughts Go Astray
- Being aware when your mind wanders off is as much a part of being in the present moment as anything!
- Just come back – if you can fine tune this state of consciousness by bringing yourself back to the present moment then you are using your gift of mindfulness successfully
- Don’t overanalyze how often you lose the state of mindfulness – it will be a gift that keeps on giving so simply welcome it back every time it wanders off
- Practice Awareness Throughout The Day No Matter What and Where
- The more proactive you are at practicing the gift of mindfulness, the easier it will be, the longer it will stay and the more empowered you will become
- No excuses – you do not need a small dark corner to focus in on the present moment. Practicing mindfulness at work or in a busy environment is just as important, perhaps more, than in the privacy of your own space. What better time to re-center yourself then in the midst of possible chaos?!
- Check out books by the leading positive mindset influencers, listen to podcasts, follow them on social media – connecting to influencers will help you fine tune your mindfulness skills
Are you thinking this sounds easier than what it is? You’re sort of right. Initially practicing mindfulness throughout the day may not be not easy. Life is busy and there are so many distractions. However once you know the strategies, incorporate these strategies in your daily life, and practice, practice, practice – the easier and more rewarding life will be. This is a lifelong commitment because life is unpredictable and ever-changing, but know this is also a life-long reward.
Isn’t it funny how the word mindfulness contains the word “ful(l)”? No I don’t want you to have a full mind overflowing with thoughts! We can laugh at the irony of the word. But I look at it as oh the mind is just full of power with a great capacity to embrace the good in you and in life! The key is honest self-awareness and consciousness.
Ask yourself these important questions to determine if you are practicing mindfulness and if you Own Your Best in that present moment:
- Am I aware of the present moment – am I living in the now?
- Am I doing myself a disservice by my thoughts or actions?
- Am I doing someone else a disservice by my thoughts or actions?
- Have I made any excuses to myself to avoid taking responsibility of a situation?
- Have I made excuses to others to avoid taking responsibility for my actions?
- Did I take anything personally as a result of a negative situation – am I being reactive?
- Am I pacing my breathing in a healthy way to stay centered and in the moment?
Reap the mindfulness benefits
The more you engage in how to practice mindfulness throughout the day the happier you will be in living your best life. Also, the more you remain in the present moment the more effective and successful you will be in making decisions, pursuing goals, improving your self-confidence, handling stress and overall managing your life. Consequently you will be much less reactive when faced with difficult, emotional or contentious circumstances or people.
For me any obstacle that I face, whether it is with managing the day to day grind of work, relationships, personal health, raising a family, dealing with all kinds of worry and anxiety (particularly in today’s uncertain world) – it all begins with a focus – a commitment – to live in the present moment using the strategies above.
What else and where else in life do you or can you ever maintain control? Surely as much as we’d like, we cannot control other people, we cannot control our spouses or partners, our children, our co-workers, our neighbors, our politicians. The only thing you can take complete and conscious ownership over is YOU.
That is why the practice of mindfulness is as important to your well-being as drinking water is important to your body. I will go a step further – the practice of mindfulness throughout the day not only benefits you but the people in your life as well – your loved ones, your colleagues, the drivers you share the highway with – it’s all connected.
So to sum things up for now (I will dig much deeper in future articles):
Somewhere between wishing our life away to surpass our problems and worrying about the future, there is also wanting to freeze time when we yearn to hold onto those precious moments. Just STOP. We need to strive harder in finding the true contentment and happiness only made available to us by living in the present moment.
Stay in the present moment – get in the habit of asking yourself for a status check
Be aware of your surroundings and absorb the realness
Enjoy your senses – spend the time to run down the line of each of your senses
When your thoughts meander; know that this is normal, just call them back to center
Feel your breath go in and out, over and over – this is how you can relax your heart rate should it be rising as well as the reaction time of your mind and body
The bittersweet truth is that time does not wait for us nor should it. If it did, we would be robbed of the beauty of every special challenge, achievement and milestone in-waiting. Even more of a crime would be the loss of experiencing the so-called ordinary. The days of hoping and dreaming but still living and working. The moments of sharing meals and laughing at bad jokes. The thrills of roller coasters, first kisses and even accomplishments like a well-earned A on an exam or helping someone feel better with a simple phone call.
Tap in to your Gift of Mindfulness with Practice
To borrow from Emily Webb’s heart-wrenching farewell in Our Town:
“… It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another. I didn’t realize. All that was going on in life and we never noticed…
Goodbye, goodbye world…Goodbye, Grover’s Corners. Mama and Papa…Goodbye to clocks ticking and Mama’s sunflowers…And food and coffee…And new-ironed dresses and hot baths and sleeping and waking up….
…Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? – every, every minute? I’m ready to go back. I should have listened to you. That’s all human beings are!
Just blind people.”
Blind…of mind sometimes but I believe the soul’s vision is 20/20. We MUST remove our blindfolds and know how to practice mindfulness throughout every day as best we can – it is truly a gift not to waste.