4 Ways To Live More Mindfully
How do we go about living a mindful life?
This is a very good question, especially for those of us who want to live truly conscientious lives – lives full of present moment awareness and deep consideration of ourselves and all sentient beings on the planet.
Mindfulness is abuzz these days because it’s a way of living that we’ve gotten away from. Our advanced technology and other modern-day distractions have got most of us moving a mile a minute. In doing so, we’ve lost touch with ourselves to a certain degree, and we need meditation and other forms of stillness and contemplation to get back on track with what really matters.
In this article, I’d like to provide you with a few very practical and down-to-earth tips on living a mindful life.
1) Morning meditation
No matter what my day brings, I give myself the gift of a morning meditation. This might come in the form of a ten-minute mantra meditation practice with mala beads. It might mean a glorious 30 minutes of sitting in silence while listening to the sound of rain; in the natural world or on a pair of headphones hooked up to my computer. It may look like a mere five minutes of breathing practice, where I focus on each inhalation and exhalation. A dedicated morning meditation practice – one that you do every, single day – is an essential part of living a mindful life.
2) Mindfulness of thoughts
When we really get down to it, the very nature of our life’s issues find their origin in our thoughts. The way in which we view the world comes from our mind. So, we need to pay attention to our thoughts and get very mindful of them. We can do this through an ongoing meditation practice where we become the witnessing presence of our thoughts.
The more we begin to bear witness, the more we might realize just how critical our thoughts are. They might be more negative than we’d ever imagined. Having awareness first and foremost is the only way to make a change. So, if you need to relate differently to your thoughts, you need to see them for what they are. By increasing your awareness through mindfulness of thoughts, you can change them for the better.
3) Repeat a mindfulness mantra
“This is what I’m doing in this moment.”
Practice saying this mantra throughout your day. Then relax into whatever it is you’re doing when you say it. Notice the shift in awareness that takes place within your consciousness. This is a simple mantra but it can make a world of difference in your day to day existence.
4) Pay attention to all your senses
“Knowing what you are doing, while you are doing it, is the essence of mindfulness practice.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
One definition of mindfulness is simply paying attention to the present moment, without judging what’s happening. This means mindfulness can be brought into any situation. It doesn’t really matter what it is we’re doing. A really powerful way to get deeply rooted in the present moment as opposed to getting lost in your head, with all its worries about the future, fantasies as to what might come, and regrets or daydreams about the past, is to pay attention to your surroundings with all of your five senses.
For instance, I am taking some time to grind all the coffee beans I’ll need for morning cups of coffee during the week. It’s a menial task, and typically I might fall into some random reverie while I’m doing it, only to come to my senses after the task is done and wonder where the time went. Was I on autopilot?
Instead of losing myself to habitual daydreaming, I bring my attention to the sound of the coffee grinder, the sounds in my space – like the soothing boil of water in the pot as black beans cook. Then there’s the faint sound of rain outside, the heater that’s running, and the breathing of my little pup underfoot. I see the lights of the kitchen and the colorful fall leaves beyond the kitchen window. I simultaneously taste the cup of decaf I’ve made, with a splash of almond milk, and a hint of raw honey. I smell the Costa Rican coffee beans as I grind them and appreciate their scent of muscovado and tart cherry. I touch the coffee grinder and feel the warmth of its little engine beneath my fingers; all these wonderful sensations while I go about doing my menial task of grinding the coffee beans!
Bringing your attention to all your senses in any given moment is no easy task, mind you. You must constantly remind yourself to do it again and again. But when you do, you are really, truly experiencing how to live in the present moment. And present moment awareness is at the heart of living a mindful life.
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