WHAT IS MINDFUL LIVING AND HOW TO BE MORE MINDFUL IN YOUR LIFE?
Do you know how sometimes your life runs away from you?
We get caught up in everyday living, the rush and tension lead to never-ending exhaustion, not to mention surviving the drama and worries at work or home.
Living in an endless cycle of stress we became more reactive than ever. We get triggered by unimportant things, our resilience disappears, creativity stumbles.
Every day we make hundreds of little decisions where some of them we make on purpose, but most of them, however, are unconscious actions that come from our deep-rooted habits, our beliefs and our frame of mind at the time.
Unconscious actions are like an automatic response to any situation that happens to us. If someone is trying to punch your face you will move to the side without thinking, if someone is shouting you might shout back, when you come back from work you reach for a glass of wine, and all the time you see your ex enormous amount of rage floods into your body.
Sometimes we just react to the situations without evaluating how to respond. We don’t give a chance to ourselves to stop and think about what happened or why it happened and decide what is best for us or others.
Most of us don’t even know that we can choose how we want to react, what thoughts to think, what words to say.
We live our lives sending automatic responses out to the world, working, eating, talking on autopilot, and then find ourselves wondering where the time goes and why nothing changes in our lives.
But it is possible to change that and become a person who runs the show instead of watching it. This way of becoming more aware is called – being mindful.
What is mindful living?
I’m sure you already heard about mindfulness many times, but if you are not sure here’s a simple explanation of what it would sound like:
Mindfulness is paying attention in an open and non-judgemental way to the present moment.
Mindfulness is created intentionally, not accidentally. To be fully in a moment is not what happens to you, you have to decide to be present.
Mindfulness means being open to the present moment and being open to notice and accept whatever feelings, sensations, or thoughts arise in you.
Mindfulness is non-judgmental. It leaves space for everything that arises without labelling it ‘’bad’’ or ‘’good’’, without criticising or trying to fix it.
Mindfulness is being in the present moment without any preconception.
Some of the people think that mindfulness is related to meditation and is only accessible for those who meditate. Yes, meditation is an activity that requires to be present at the moment, but it doesn’t mean that if we don’t meditate then we can’t be mindful in our lives.
It’s actually more than just being PRESENT. Being mindful also means being conscious and awake which leads to living more fully.
To live mindfully is to be aware of your life and moments in between. You begin to understand that your time here is limited and there is so much beauty around to be discovered. You start appreciating those little things, you want to create more pleasant memories and put more effort to make the most of your life.
And this effort is everything. You begin to put your energy into the things that create more peace within you. You consciously start making better decisions about your future, you focus on changing those deep-rooted habits that aren’t serving you anymore, you stop reacting automatically to difficult and stressful situations and choose how you want to respond, you acknowledge and accept your emotions the way it is and instead of letting them control you try to untangle those roots and heal.
This is mindful living.
It’s taking one intentional action with full and open acceptance and compassion and clear awareness. And if you apply this in each area of your life you will see the beautiful transformation of your life.
How to be more mindful in your everyday living?
1. Start your day with intention.
We are so used to wake up and scroll the phones until the last moment when we have to jump out of bed and mindlessly rush to get ready for the day. When you start the day with the chaos it’s not a surprise that your whole day is like one big chaos!
Morning (no matter what time your morning starts) is like a setting stage for the rest of your day. Instead of scrolling or watching TV take the first 15 minutes of your day and put yourself in a positive and good mood. Read something inspirational, listen to your favourite music, think of the things you are grateful for, stretch your body, try breathing exercises. Start your day with intention and focus on yourself (at least once a day!!!).
2. Regularly turn on your five senses.
It’s not that easy to be mindful especially when you begin your journey, but one of the simplest ways to bring your attention to the present moments is to stop what you do and observe what is going on around you.
- What noises do you hear?
- What scents do you smell?
- What do you see around you?
- What things you can touch with your hand wherever you are?
- Is there anything around you could taste?
It doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing, remind yourself to put your full attention into the moment and observe it through your five senses for a few moments.
3. Invite acceptance, acknowledgement, openness and compassion.
Sometimes life throws at us some situations that make us feel stressful, angry, anxious, sad or worried. Negative emotions feel very unnatural and make us feel very uncomfortable that’s why sometimes we tend to shout back, run away, rush to fix it or put it deep down in ourselves. As I say, life is full of surprises, it brings unique experiences every minute, but we put labels on it (mostly ‘good’ or ‘bad’) and try to do something about it. That’s the reason why we end up suffering, getting stuck in our lives, create limiting beliefs and fears, forget who we are and where we want to go.
Imagine how easy it would be if you open up and greet each and every emotion with a little bit of faith and compassion. Because no matter how hard you will try to ignore what you feel, you will feel it anyway. It is going to be there. So why not give yourself and the emotion that arose a little bit of love. It needs your love, acknowledgement and acceptance. Don’t ignore it, just accept as it comes. And see how quickly it goes away.
You should understand that feeling negative emotions is as natural as eating and sleeping. Heartbreaks suck, losing a job is scary, dark rooms are scary, people do disappoint sometimes, and you are allowed to cry if your dreams did not come true. Everything that we think and feel is a part of us. It is a part of our journey. Everything that we discover about ourselves is extraordinary. Each and every one of us has some parts that we don’t like, that we feel ashamed of, that we judge too much. But it is what it is. The more you resist it, the more you think about it, the more it comes back to you and asks your attention. Let go of the labels, of the urge to fix, just offer full acceptance and compassion and let it be.
4. Untangle your thoughts.
A lot of people think that their feelings and emotions are just a consequence of what happened and there is nothing they can do about it. If they are angry, that means that someone pissed them off. If they are sad it’s because someone hurt them and they are happy because something made them feel that way.
Truth is that our feelings and emotions are created not by external factors but it comes from our thoughts. Anger, sadness, happiness, joy, jealously, scarcity – that is something you create in your head and it depends on the thoughts you have.
Of course, it is normal that in different situations you feel one way or another. Your thinking patterns or the way you think depends on the information you gathered since you were a child, what kind of family or society you grew up, experiences you had and the beliefs that formed along the way.
There is a much deeper reason under every emotion you feel. Next time you feel hurt when someone comments on your weight, dig into the root why you feel like that. Is it true what they say? Do you think the same? Why do you think like that about yourself?
If you get angry when someone is late, think why is it like that. Do you think that they don’t respect you? Why do you think about yourself when it’s their problem?
Be mindful and watch your feelings and emotions and get into the roots of the thoughts they are linked to. Know that it is ok to have a variety of feelings and thoughts. Knowing what you think and why you think it’s a way to accepting your self.
“Look past your thoughts, so you may drink the pure nectar of This Moment.”
5. Connect with your body.
Most of our lives we live in our heads and we ignore the fact that our bodies are important too. We tend to hate them for the way it looks, we blame them for our abilities, we hurt them with some of the habits or choices we make (especially on the weekends, right).
A lot of people don’t realise that our bodies are the only reason why we have this experience of living in this world. We can dance all night long, we can kiss our loved ones, we can explore other countries, we can swim in the sea. It is a temple which keeps us safe. It is our home. It is here for a reason. It is here for you.
It is very important to improve the relationship and connect with your body. Feel gratitude and appreciation for carrying you. Don’t forget to stretch the muscles and exercise to keep it strong and be ready for supporting you. Eat foods that nourish instead of creating damage.
It is a fascinating miracle that your body works automatically, your heart beats, your blood floods, your food digests on its own, you don’t have to control anything. But it would be amazing to listen to the messages it sends to you. Maybe you are holding too much tension somewhere? Maybe it needs a little bit more care in some places? How does your body feel? Light or heavy? Bringing attention to your body will help you to connect and stay in the present moment and to fully feel that you are here and now.
6. Improve focus and prioritise what’s important.
Time is one of the most precious assets in the world. And yet we are wasting it for the activities we don’t enjoy and for the people that drain our energy. Of course, there is a thing, our modern world is full of distractions, multitasking and perception of ‘‘being busy’’ equal to ‘‘successful’’. We do more and more and more every day, we focus on making money, building careers, finishing schools, universities, running away and ignoring the uncomfortable feelings… We are used to a neverending rush through our lives.
There is nothing wrong with a rush. Sometimes life requires to speed up and go go go. What isn’t that great is that we often are sucked into it so deeply that we forget what’s really important to us. We often lose ourselves and move through tasks mindlessly with default responses and reactions instead of experiencing, choosing and truly feeling alive.
Life is happening every single moment you breathe. You are allowed to choose how you want to live it. Find some time and uncover your priorities and what’s truly important to you and then try to focus on it. Reduce distractions, simplify your to-do list, drop the expectations, dedicate some time for relaxation. Mindfully choose where you want to focus and what’s important to YOU and your well-being.
7. Awake for the moments in between.
There is a big misconception about life, a lot of people think that life is found in those big moments like graduation, promotion, wedding, buying a house, having a kid, holiday, celebrations, etc. Those grand moments are really important to us, but what we do until it happens? We spend our days mindlessly wandering around, wasting time by watching movies or scrolling our phones, drinking, eating. We wait. We wait for our life to happen.
But life is happening NOW. All those moments in between. While you wait in the line to enter the shop, while you sit in a car in the traffic, while you walk your dog, while you watch a movie. THIS IS LIFE. AND IT IS MADE OF ALL THE MOMENTS IN BETWEEN.
Imagine opening up your business. It might feel such a wonderful day when you finally open the door for the public (or publish the page, you get it). But until that moment you have to work hard from the early morning till the late night every single day more than a few months or years. So many things to sort out, papers to sign, rules to create, something to order, to design… All those little things are a part of one end product – your business. It’s not like someone came and gave it to you. You built it step by step.
It’s the same with life. All of those little moments IS your life. Be awake for those moments. Don’t just go through your days, experience your days. That’s the secret of a good life – you have to live it, no matter how dirty it feels like.
8. Invite mindful eating.
Eating is one of the most pleasurable experiences we engage in as human beings and yet sometimes we don’t even notice how food disappears from our plate. We watch movies or scroll through our phones or eat at our desk while we work or drive in a car. We are used to disconnecting and taking away a chance to experience those moments of nourishing our bodies.
Eating is a part of life so it should be experienced fully. Breathe in and out a few times before your meal. Activate your senses, see the colours, smell the scents, feel the texture, enjoy the taste. Notice how you eat. Slow down and enjoy being there.
Mindful living is an open, non-judgemental, intentional being in the present moment. It doesn’t mean that you just sit still and do nothing and be no one. Mindfulness is understanding that you are alive. It’s being aware of your presence and making the right decisions for your well-being. It’s choosing to experience every moment of your life.
It’s not that easy to be mindful and awake, it requires some patience and practices. But it is a journey of your life and as long as you are choosing to go on it, eventually, you will notice that it isn’t that hard at all.
I hope you consciously choose to build your life the way you want and will find your happiness in every moment of your day.
Try this 28-day Mindful Living Challenge. I invite you to do one exercise each day to awaken your mindfulness, being in the present moment, feeling that you are alive. It is very easy to