With this new wave of spirituality taking over the world, you’re probably being bombarded with buzz words like ‘consciousness’, ‘woke’ and ‘higher-self’. Although the fast-paced spread of this information is great, sometimes the core message can be lost in marketing and trendsetting. If you’re looking to find out what being mindful is all about and how you can do it, we’ve got you covered.
What is mindfulness?
Being mindful simply means being conscious or aware of something. Now, why is everybody trying to be mindful nowadays? Isn’t it easier just going about your day without having to be conscious about what you’re actually doing? Many people believe that going through life on autopilot is far better than being aware of your feelings, actions and thoughts. However, how many times have your thoughts alone ruined your day? Maybe you’ve woken up thinking ‘Why didn’t they reply to me? Did I do something wrong?’ You now spend the entire day worrying about why this particular person hasn’t replied to you, making yourself sick to the stomach with worry.
In reality, this person just hasn’t seen your message and replies to you when they realise they’ve missed it. Through your thoughts alone you constructed an entirely false narrative that completely ruined your day. Being conscious and aware of your thoughts allows you to separate yourself from them and look at them objectively. Is the thought I’m having a fact? Is it beneficial to me? You don’t have to accept your thoughts as facts! Crazy, right?
Like everything, being mindful takes practice. It can actually be quite frustrating to begin with and you’ll probably find yourself saying ‘is this real or just some new aged BS?’ This is completely understandable as you’ve probably never tried to separate YOU from the voice that speaks in your head. Your inner dialogue can be quite entertaining, but it can also be quite damaging. Here are a few things you can start doing to practice mindfulness.
Ask yourself, I wonder what my next thought will be? Notice what your brain tends to think about and categorise your thoughts. Work, school, relationships, etc. You’ll find that your mind likes to think about some things more than others and each thought can provoke a different feeling.
Notice your surroundings, I mean really notice them. Right now, wherever you are and whatever you might be doing, take a look around and listen. Are you sitting? What does the surface beneath you feel like? What does the temperature feel like on your skin? Pay close attention to these things and you’ll find that it will bring you further into the present moment. We can get so caught up in our own inner dialogue that we don’t even realise what’s going on around us.
Pay attention to your breathing. The pace of our breath changes in different situations. When you’re nervous you’ll find that your breathing is quicker and shallower. When you’re relaxed your breathing can slow down and become deeper and fuller. When you notice your breathing, you can be more aware of your body and your feelings.
How can being mindful help you?
When we live our lives on autopilot, we don’t really think about why we are doing what we’re doing. When you practice mindfulness, you are taking a step back and watching your thoughts and feelings. This mindset will help you respond rather than react. When we’re not mindful, we can let our emotions and feelings get the better of us. When you’re angry, you might react in the heat of the moment and hurt someone’s feelings. Say you’re having an argument with a loved one, they lash out at you for seemingly no reason. If you were being mindful in the situation, you may have been able to think more rationally by asking yourself:
- Should I go calm down before reacting negatively?
- Emotions come and go, when this emotion subsides, how would I have wished I responded?
- Clearly this person is hurt, is it more about them than it is me?
- How can I get to the bottom of what’s really happening here?
It’s easy to let your ego take over when you feel like you’re being attacked. Your ego might say ‘give them the silent treatment’ or ‘yell at them back!’. But we’re all human and feelings are powerful. But even trying to be mindful is a great first step.
Your inner dialogue that’s reading this article right now can either be of your benefit or not.
Many people don’t enjoy being alone, because it gives you more time to think. If your thoughts manifested as a person, would you like that person? Would you want to spend time with them? Would they be kind to you and others?
If your answer is no, that’s okay. At least now you know, and you can make an effort to be mindful in making the voice in your head a person that you’d want to spend time with.