Being able to slow down and enjoy the experience of living in the moment may sound simple, but can actually be an incredibly difficult process to master!
Often when we try to focus on what is happening in the present moment, we find that our minds wander to memories from the past, or to thoughts and concerns about the future. This can cause a great deal of stress, as we are reliving old experiences and contemplating that which might take place.
Living on Autopilot
The chaotic modern world in which we all live can often force us to live on autopilot, as we seek to be as productive as possible. This can result in chronic stress, serious unhappiness, and leave us feeling as though we are never enough – that we are never doing enough.
When we are going about our everyday lives, there are inevitably regular tasks that we have to complete. When we are undertaking these tasks we may feel pressure to just get through them, especially if they are things that we don't really enjoy doing. It is when we are doing these things that our minds are in danger of wandering, and that may sometimes be to less than positive places.
When we start to appreciate the joy that we can take in practically anything, then it becomes almost effortless to fill our days with happiness.
If you are often doing one thing, but thinking about something else entirely, then you are certainly not living in a mindful way. You are distracting yourself from what you are doing in the present moment, and this may happen for any number of reasons.
A common example is when we commute to work. How many of your journeys to and from work do you actually ever remember? You are more than likely on autopilot, just trying to get from A to B because you have to. But why not engage your mind and enjoy each journey?
You can use this time spent going to and from work looking at your surroundings, getting some exercise, or thinking about your feelings and checking in with yourself.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a simple but powerful way to change your outlook on life and your experience of living. It can help you to break the cycles of stress and negativity, and to embrace the beauty in moments that you may previously have described as mundane at best!
Mindfulness is increasing your personal awareness of each moment. It is giving more attention and importance to that which you are currently experiencing and the moment in which you are currently living.
When we allow our minds to dwell on negative experiences from the past, then we gain nothing in the present. We are simply reminding ourselves of something unpleasant, and then the mind can experience those associated feelings all over again.
When you approach each day in a mindful way, then your mind has less capacity to wander to these memories and concerns, and therefore you remain in balance, thinking only about the sensations and emotions that are currently taking place.
Embracing mindfulness at meal times can really help you to only eat to satiate your hunger, as opposed to over-eating with little thought.
Often we eat out of boredom or for comfort, when we should actually be dealing with these feelings in different ways.
Approaching each meal in a mindful way will help you to develop a healthier relationship with food, and to better understand when you are genuinely hungry, as opposed to eating to mask other feelings.
Doing so is incredibly simple. You must first remove yourself from any distractions, and by this I mean turn off the television and leave your phone to one side. Give your undivided attention to your meal, and pay close attention to the tastes, the flavours, the sensations of eating. Understand where your food came from, how it came to be on your plate, and how it is going to benefit your body to consume it!
Obstacles to Mindfulness
Although the concept of mindfulness itself is, on the surface, a simple one, there can be obstacles to getting started.
You may be surprised at just how many thoughts you have, and just how much your mind wanders. Often when you set out to complete a task in a mindful way, your brain can have other ideas! And, before you know it, you’re thinking about the movie you saw last week, or deciding what to cook for dinner.
Distractions from other people and the world at large can frequently be a barrier to mindful living. It can be so easy to get lost in the endless streams of information and stimulation from the media, our friends, our jobs, etc. But how much if this is really of some benefit to us, and how much of it is simply noise?
If you feel like your mood is currently weighed down by ongoing conflict or certain negative situations, then it may feel especially difficult to focus your mind.
If this is the case then I recommend checking out my past blog post on Overcoming Negativity to Embrace Happiness!
It is important to remember that mindfulness is not just an act of meditation, although the two things can be practiced simultaneously.
Far from encouraging you to suppress your thoughts, mindfulness teaches you to develop a stronger connection to your thoughts, and creates a positive relationship throughout the mind, body, and soul.
Mindfulness and Relationships
Far from just being good for your own sense of self and happiness, engaging with mindfulness can also help to enhance your personal relationships, with your family, your friends and romantic partners.
It can help you to give more importance to the time you spend with the people you love, as you understand the importance of being emotionally present during this time.
Mindfulness for Life
One of the most amazing things about beginning to live your life in this way, is that it can really change the way that you think and feel over time. As your stress levels lower and you really begin to find the joy in the smaller things, then you may start to respond to stressful or difficult situations in a calmer and more relaxed way.
These changes can become permanent, and further fuel the new cycle of positivity that you have embarked upon.
Being able to overcome the sources of stress in your life can help better equip you to embrace mindfulness in a genuine way! This is something that I aim to help you do each and every week with my Get Inspired Newsletter!
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