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Have we all posed this question to ourselves at some point in our lives over the past few years?
We believe the answer is a big YES!
Why? It seems as if people praising this movement have found a certain kind of ease within their lives that makes their paths more enjoyable and stress-free, at least a little.
But what brings this effect can also be found in practices and routines that we would not usually associate with being mindful, since it has been painted as something out of the ordinary, something not mundane so to speak, as something a regular person could probably not do.
It is common then to turn to yoga, conscious breathing and meditation for mindfulness, but if those are not for us, there are plenty of other techniques and methods we can do to help us find calm in the midst of chaos.
According to Psychology Today, Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When we are mindful, we carefully observe our thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad. It means living in the moment and awakening to our current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future.
When we practice purposely focusing our attention on the present moment and accepting it without judgment, it allows us to enjoy the little things and to put things into perspective. Taking life for what it truly is: one instant at a time.
Mindfulness is now even being examined scientifically and it has been found to be a key element in stress reduction and overall happiness. Not too bad, right?
Some activities we can practice to keep us mindful other than yoga and its siblings are cooking, walking in nature, painting or drawing, spending time with animals, staring at a sunset or sunrise, writing, reading; and even some other more regular day to day tasks such as showering and putting our clothes on. Yes, you read that right.
Were those completely non-expected? At first, we thought so too, but once we got familiar with the idea of mindfulness, we understood that it is simply about noticing what’s right in front of us each single moment, without feeling anxious about what’s to come the next minute or about what already happened a minute ago.
You can develop mindfulness during regular activities as we said before. When walking, driving or even brushing your teeth. The key is to try and focus only on the present moment and not pay too much attention to everything else going on in your head.
You can ask yourself about what is happening for you right in that exact instant. Is your breathing slow or fast? Are you tired? Are you hungry? How do you feel? What are you observing?
When you concentrate on the experience surrounding you, you’re less likely to get caught up in your thoughts. Ask yourself whether it is hot or cold. What does the air feel like on your face? What sounds can you hear? What can you smell? What’s the texture of the fabric on your leggings? What’s the color of your sweater? And so on.
This is tricky to do, but try not to label things as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Just notice things and let them be. For example, instead of labelling a particular smell as ‘bad’, just notice it without judging it and allow yourself to experience it as it is.
In each activity that you develop and perform, try to become as aware as possible.
If you’re cooking at home, pay attention to the way in which you chop veggies, how the butter starts to bubble and sizzle in the fryer. Notice the aroma of some of the ingredients, look at the array of different colors inside the salad bowl. Practicing these tips will enhance your cooking experience and take you aside from your everyday overthinking.
If you don’t like cooking or can’t find the time to do it, try being mindful when walking to work or to the gym. Look at your surroundings, feel the ground your stepping in, allow your mind to feel each step you’re taking. Look up to the buildings, admire their architecture, their color, their height. Let yourself be taken aback by the number of people on the street. Keep track of your pace. These will help you focus on what you’re doing and what’s around you in that specific moment rather than letting your mind wander in the infinite sea of possibilities that the future represents, or even going back to the past to punish yourself for what went wrong or the things you could’ve done differently.
Always be aware of what you’re doing. The idea is not to let yourself get too caught up on the surroundings as to make you get too distracted and forget you’re driving or walking.
The idea is to notice the surrounding, pay attention to what you’re doing and enjoy the present moment.
Making it a priority to be mindful when exercising any activity is one of the things that will help your overall health in a fast, simple, easy way while doing regular everyday activities and without having to set time apart specifically for it.