To the mind that is still,
the whole universe surrenders — Buddha
Consciously Experience Each Moment
To live mindfully is to consciously experience each moment as it happens and to do so without judgement. It seems now, we are all so obsessed with productivity and a notion exists that “there isn’t enough time in a day.” Furthermore, as we go about our undertakings, multitasking for efficiency, we are already thinking about what’s next. Meanwhile, missing the lessons, opportunities and pleasures of the present.
Most of us take for granted that time flies, meaning that it passes too quickly. But in the mindful state, time doesn’t really pass at all. There is only a single instant of time that keeps renewing itself over and over with infinite variety. — Deepak Chopra
Emotional Intelligence is Essential for Success
Living mindfully is actually like living magically. It can help us function more efficiently and with higher precision, it can slow down time and amplify the things we love, it can even turn daunting chores into pleasant therapeutic sessions. Perhaps most significantly though, mindfulness can really help us obtain a deeper understanding of ourselves by becoming self aware. Self awareness increases our emotional intelligence and emotional intelligence is essential for success in our careers, our relationships and in our day to day choices.
Mindfulness is Paying Attention to the Moment
Mindfulness is a very simple concept but with today’s lifestyles, it is not easily achieved. What most people don’t realize is that you don’t have to be a Buddhist monk or Yogi to master mindful living. You don’t even have to sit in contorted poses or hum foreign sounds. All you have to do is purposefully pay attention to the sensations and responses of the moments you live. Sensations can be plentiful or minimal and responses can be positive or negative. If your mind wanders, acknowledge your wandering thoughts without judgment then ground them back to to the present moment.
An example of how performing a task mindfully can entirely change one’s perception. Personally, sweeping used to be an irksome duty of mine and I wanted to find a way to make it tolerable. To start simple, I decided to make an effort to consciously forget the past, not fantasize about the future, and pay attention to the sensation of bristles scratching the surface. I soon realized the sound they produced was soothing to me. So much so that I started to really take my time and enjoy the process. As soon as my mind wandered, reflecting on what I had been doing a summer earlier, I’d begin to conjure unproductive resentment and become indifferent to how well I swept. Likewise, if I began to plan my future I’d become anxious and hastily blow through my job only to have to do it again. Once I became self aware, enough to notice my wandering mind and bring it back to the moment, I found myself fully enjoying the whole process. I finished quick, did a better job and felt relaxed when I was done!
Here are some simple practices that can help you learn to live a more mindful life:
Falling asleep and waking up – try falling asleep without distractions. Don’t read or watch TV in bed. Instead, lie down and listen to yourself breathe. Feel your body start to relax and how “sleepiness” starts to take over. Similarly, you can set the tone for your day when you wake up. Don’t just jump out of bed once the alarm sounds, or hit the snooze until you have to make a five-minute dash for it either. Instead, listen to the alarm – just for a bit – feel yourself start to wake. Listen to your breathe. How does your body feel? Do you start planning right away? Bring yourself back to the act of waking until you are ready to get up.
Exercise – mindful exercise can really enhance a workout! Concentrate on your breathe, listen to your body, and you’ll be surprised by what it tells you. You’ll unleash untapped energy, push yourself harder and enjoy it more. Paying attention to your body can also help avoid injury.
Routine activities – showering, reading and walking are all great activities to start practicing a mindful lifestyle.
Drink Tea – tea is one of the original and most quintessential mindful practices. When you drink tea mindfully, you are connecting in a ritual that has been practiced by hundreds of cultures for thousands of years! Give tea its time. Listen to the water as it pours into your cup. Let it steep. Watch the leaves soak and notice the changes in color. Smell your tea. Taste your tea. How does it make you feel? For a great tea meditation, check out my previous blog “Breathe At The Elephant Room”, in it I feature a mindful tea ritual by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.
Start Living a Yogi State of Mind
While self awareness is a part of mindful insight, to merely be “aware” of what is happening is not true mindfulness. Remember, just because you are sipping the tea does not mean you are tasting the tea. However, if you purposefully pay attention to the sensations and responses of any present moment and realize your existence in those moments, then you are living a yogi state of mind!