Mindfulness is one of those topics we feel we should know a lot about but yet it’s true integration in our lives can feel illusive. What does it mean to be mindful? Do you have images of a Buddhist monk? Or perhaps a woman seated cross-legged, deep in mediation?
The word mindful evokes images of peace, serenity, and balance. All of which are true to the root of the word. However, if you live the same real world that I do, mindfulness can be hard to grasp. We are pummeled with electronic communications each day. Trying to empty that email inbox is a task set in futility. Things fall through the cracks and for all this over communicating, we’ve become more detached. More detached from one another for certain, but more importantly, more detached from ourselves.
Being mindful is a moment to moment process. Whatever the moment, being present in it is the key. Yes, that sometimes means we are in a moment of sadness, anger, grief, frustration etc. The trick is, to allow ourselves to feel each and every moment so that we can pass through it, growing our understanding as we do.
To guide you, here are 5 steps you can incorporate into your day to find a little nugget of mindfulness each and every day.
Step One to Mindfulness:
Breathe. Sounds simple enough right? Sadly, forgetting to breathe or holding our breath is a more common habit than you might think. I’ve mentioned before in other blog posts that science has demonstrated an overly high percentage of email users, hold their breath when they open their email.
So the first step to being mindful is to breathe more often, more deeply, and more intentionally. Next time you sit down to open your email, inhale deeply through your nose, hold it a moment, and then exhale through your mouth. Repeat this 4 or 5 times until you feel the calm wash over you.
This is not something you can overdo, so have at it and breathe with intention as often as you remember to throughout your day. Perfect times to breathe are when you are sitting in traffic. While you wait in line at the bank or grocery store. Before starting a conversation with your children, and most certainly before you open your email.
Step Two to Mindfulness:
Tell yourself how amazing you are. You are your own best champion. Belief in yourself is key to your success in life. If you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect others to believe in you? My suggestion is not meant to send you out into the world proclaiming your own greatness. No, instead, I would like you to carry a big stick and walk softly. What I mean is, tell yourself you are wonderful, you are brilliant, you are generous, and tell it to yourself in the privacy of your own home, ideally while watching your reflection in a mirror.
Words carry a vibration to them and even if you don’t believe yourself at first, I urge you to continue the practice. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is self confidence or mindfulness for that matter. Trust the process and meet yourself at the mirror each morning with only good things to tell yourself. For more insight in to this process check out these blog posts. I am love and I am enough.
Step Three to Mindfulness:
Look around you. Spend a few moments each day looking around your environment. Look up at the clouds. See if you can locate any shapes or faces in their white canvas. Gaze at the horizon and let the light play with your eyes, making them blur then come back into focus. While I don’t recommend you do this while driving, there is a pretty cool effect of having a distant image pull you towards it.
Don’t discount the ground either. During rainy days, I love to watch the speed at which the raindrops hit the puddles. In the sunshine, I slow things down to notice the caterpillars and the lady bugs as they crawl about the warm pavement. Any day is a good day to take in something new.
Step Four to Mindfulness:
Scent has the ability to capture a memory. When combined with sound, it is magnified to a specific moment in time. This moment has the potential to be a mindful one. Put yourself in a place of beauty each day. It can be as simple as a walk in the neighborhood or as elaborate as a trail run through the forest. Once you arrive there, breathe deep and smell the air. Take it all in and then turn your ears on.
Listen to the sounds around you. Are the trees whooshing in the breeze? Is a neighbor’s dog barking? Do you hear children playing a game of tag? Are you by the water and the ripples are lapping at the shore? Take another inhalation through your nose and smell the sounds you are hearing. Using more than one sense purposefully has the ability to transform the moment into one of more awareness. Build your moments by combining all of your senses.
Step Five to Mindfulness:
Say, “thank you”. Gratitude is the quite literally the fastest way to mindfulness. The added benefit being that it also happens to be the speediest route to a good mood, a kind word, and a happy heart. Having gratitude means you’ve noticed something about your day or your life that makes you feel good. That in a nutshell is mindfulness in the moment.
So, go out into the world and find things to be grateful for. The more you walk through each day with gratitude, the more moments to be grateful for, will pour into your life. It is a never ending cycle of living in the moment when you lead with a grateful heart.