When I was a kid, adults used to tell me all the time that I had an “old soul”. I never quite knew what that meant, though now it makes more sense. I am a thinker, a little bit intuitive, which has come in handy with reading other people and understanding what my body is trying to tell me. That comes from being aware in a way that is unique. It is mindful.
Lately I am finding that I am letting everyday moments slip away, wasting time on unnecessary nonsense or issues in which I have no control rather than enjoying time with my family or in solitude. So I have started studying the practice of mindfulness. In the past few years I have tried to be a more conscious consumer. Now I want to be a more consistently conscious thinker.
Mindfulness is the latest buzzword in wellness. It is precisely what you might guess, the act of paying attention. The art, if you will, of mindfulness is based in several religions, beliefs and practices from Buddhism to meditation. Practicing mindfulness is known to reduce negativity, self-criticism, and self-destructive behaviors such as mood-induced eating, all of which I could happily have less of in my life.
Want to join me in being more mindful in 2014? Here are 5 ways to practice mindfulness:
- Be in the present with your thoughts. Mindfulness is a state of self-awareness, but it is also about intentionally being in the here-and-now. It is about focusing on the present rather than harboring issues from the past or concerns about the future – or as I called it earlier, that which we cannot control. Although we are busier than ever, we allow little time to practice stillness and calm.
- Let go of judgments. The practice of mindfulness is about removing judgments from thoughts. Being an analytical (and sometimes judgmental) person by nature, I assume this one will be my biggest challenge. Letting go of judgments means not overthinking things, which could end up being a welcomed release.
- Be open to new experiences. Living in the moment means keeping your mind open. It is about allowing yourself to let go of hesitation, insecurity and self-doubt. Try to let your senses guide you. We are not how we judge ourselves, and letting go of those judgments so we can be open to new experiences.
- Control your thoughts. Did you ever hear that quote by Eleanor Roosevelt in which she said that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent? Mindfulness is the reminder that we are not our thoughts. It is a good thing too, because most negative thoughts are based in the past, in self-doubt, or in worrying about the future. We have the power to control our thoughts. In my opinion, that is something we should learn in early childhood, as early as we can learn to walk and talk. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a world where everyone knew how to control their thoughts, reactions and emotions?
- Seize the moment. Rather than just letting it pass by, enjoy it. Appreciate it. Live it to the fullest. Even the most mundane moments have something we can appreciate.
So here I go, on this new quest of learning to be in the present moment all the time. I hope you will follow along with me on this journey, and perhaps join in on a journey of your own.
Do you practice mindfulness?