I am sure you have heard talk about being mindful, but have you ever thought, “How do I incorporate it in my life?” Being mindful is by definition living in the moment. Seems easy enough, right? Yet being mindful is a goal that can be hard to achieve in the daily hustle and bustle. We have become so hardwired to stay busy and work towards our goals, that mindfulness is not something that always comes effortlessly or naturally. Therefore, it must be something that we put effort into and have as a practice in our daily life.
In my experience mindfulness is a journey. A challenging journey as I am one of those people who have a hard time quieting my mind. My internal dialogue runs through my head constantly… sometimes at a feverish pace. During recovery from my eating disorder, mindfulness was a topic discussed often. We were taught tools to help silence the internal dialogue that could be so negative and harmful. While I am still on my own mindfulness journey, I am much better at using these tools to help quiet my mind and live in the moment.
Today, I want to share with you 3 tools I have found useful to begin the journey to being more mindful.
One of the first things to try on your mindfulness journey is meditation. Many people share through social media their own meditation practices and talk about these long stretches of time spent meditating. However, if you are like me all of this is easier said than done. I would be remiss if I did not mention that you should not compare your journey to someone else’s. Seriously, there is no right way to mediate. It can take on different forms. For some it is a yoga class, while others it is a hike in nature with no one else around. Of course, your more traditional meditation is where you sit still and clear your mind of all thoughts for a set amount of time. Or there is even guided meditation to help with this. All of these work, but you must first find what works best for you, so try them all. The first step is making a plan and starting. Start small with just 1-minute and build from there each day (or even each week) until you create a routine.
There are also apps you can try to help you get started:
What I want you to take away from this is that meditation can take on many forms and mean different things to different people. It also does not matter how long that you do it for, what’s important is that you try.
PUT DOWN THE TECHNOLOGY
Part of the definition of mindfulness is living in the moment, and what better way to live in the moment than putting down the technology we are so connected to. It is difficult to be in the moment when you are constantly getting notified about what’s going on in the world.
Just like with meditation start small:
Go on a walk with a friend or by yourself and leave your phone behind and work up to longer periods of time.
If you are wanting to do it at home,
Try setting an alarm (not on your phone) and putting your phone on silent in a room you won’t be in. Again, start easy, set the alarm for 15 minutes and continue to build over time.
I do believe that we must force ourselves to leave the phone behind, as it has become a habit to constantly check it mindlessly - remember, our goal is to be more mindful. While you may feel naked not having your phone with you, I believe it will eventually come to feel liberating and you may find yourself leaving it behind more often and for longer stretches of time. For those really ready for a challenge, try a no tech weekend.
A helpful tip - make an announcement on Facebook or Instagram so that you can be held accountable.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF
Nothing takes you out of being in a mindful state like judging yourself for not being mindful. A great tool I use when a negative thought comes into my mind, is to imagine the ocean. Just like the waves come in (like your thought did), they also go out. Imagine the thought going out with the waves. You must give yourself permission to not be perfect in your pursuit, as perfection does not exist. Know that you will have days where you are living in the moment and days where you can’t escape the thoughts running through your mind like a crowded subway and that is ok. It is all about recognizing it, asking yourself where those thoughts are coming from and what they might mean. You must give yourself the same compassion that you would give a friend.
I hope these tools will be beneficial for you in your journey to being more mindful. I know that incorporating these into my life has made a difference in how mindful I am. Mindfulness is a journey and a practice that one must live every day. Through practice and consistency we are able to live a more happy and fulfilled life.