Want to know the easiest way to relieve stress and start enjoying life? To stop zoning out, getting distracted, obsessing over the past, or worrying too much about the future?
Mindfulness is the practice of being continuously present in every experience without judgement. It is proven to help with self-control, stress-reduction, concentration/mental clarity, and emotional intelligence. Mindfulness enables us to practice kindness, acceptance, and compassion. It gives us the opportunity to peel back our layers, reveal the calmness and tranquility within, and enjoy life exactly where it is today.
For me, it starts with putting down the phone. (or TV, or xBox) How much are we missing by not really interacting with one another or the Earth? The smell of the flowers, the sound of the rain, a conversation with an actual human. We can’t experience the world in which we are living if we are zoning out in a virtual one. Once I started putting down my phone earlier and enjoying dinner to the sound of nature or a conversation instead of the TV, I began enjoying dinner with my husband more. Now it’s a dinnertime rule in our house…unless there’s a Ranger Game on. I pick my battles wisely =)
On another note, go spend more time in nature. No matter what is bothering me or taking over my mind, I find it impossible to be sad or distracted when I drive out to the beach or stick my toes in the water. I could spend hours just looking at the waves and letting that very moment take over. Find your nature place and let it quiet your mind until you are completely present in the experience.
Slow it down and stop multi-tasking; devote your full, undivided attention to the task at hand. You’ll be able to breathe easier, accomplish more, and complete things the way you want them done without being so worried about checking off another item on the to do list. I tend to get so attached to finishing everything I have to do with record speed, that I work myself up for nothing. Once I stopped attaching myself to my list and started finishing things one step at a time, I felt more accomplished and less anxious.
Speaking of which…practice non attachment. Acknowledge each thought, especially negative or worrisome ones, and let them pass. Recognize them as just thoughts without reacting or allowing them to consume and influence you. Excessive focus on thoughts we cannot control causes anxiety and unhealthy attitudes towards negative emotions and experiences. Mindful people cope with life more easily because they accept the positive and negative emotions and let them exist harmoniously.
Practice Yoga to turn inward and discover peace. I always love when my teachers begin class by asking us to leave everything outside. Take the class time to be present with the yoga practice and discover your true self, at the inner most level.
Meditate more. Traditional Buddhist meditation, or Sati, is the presence of mind through every experience. It enables us to tune into first the body, then feelings/sensations, followed by mind/consciousness, and finally mental qualities. I’ll be honest, meditation isn’t exactly easy for me. During my 200YTT, we had a meditation assignment and I chose to walk outside for a half hour everyday, then sit for as long as I could in silence. It was January (and very snowy!) and I don’t like to sit still.
But, the funny thing is, the more mindful I become, the more I want to take the time and meditate, and it’s almost like I’ve gotten to the point where I WANT to complete this assignment. Meditation doesn’t need to be complete stillness, though. For me, using mala beads or even coloring allows me to tune everything external out and look inward towards peace.
We all deserve to find inner peace. And that doesn’t mean that there aren’t days where we become overwhelmed or consumed by real life. It happens. But mindfulness gives us the chance to stay continuously present and allow things to exist as they will, leaving space to enjoy the smaller things in life.
Share your tips for mindfulness and staying present below!