5 Key Habits for Living a Mindful Life
“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” — Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindfulness is a hot topic, but not everybody realizes how simple it can be. Here are a few ways you can up your mindfulness game every day.
What is your first thought when you hear the word mindfulness? If it’s of an annoyingly serene yogi, sitting in the lotus position surrounded by crystals, you’re not alone. Mindfulness has become synonymous with meditation, but in reality, you don’t have to drop everything to live a daily mindful life.
At its core, mindfulness means merely cultivating an attitude of awareness and acceptance in the present moment. You can practice this at any time by consciously taking stock of sensations as they arise.
Notice how you are breathing, how your body feels and any sounds, sights or smells that you are aware of. Research has shown that practicing this active awareness regularly can help to reduce stress levels – leaving you with a healthier and more resilient body and mind.
We’re all tied to our devices these days, and while technology has revolutionized how we live our lives, it can also have adverse effects on our wellbeing. Screen time has been linked to increased anxiety and disrupted circadian rhythms, making those magic machines a double-edged sword for our health.
Part of mindfulness is setting boundaries with things that deplete us, so why not set a switch-off time every evening to give yourself time to wind down before bed? Your phone will still be there in the morning, and your overstimulated brain will thank you.
Get into the moment
A common misconception about meditation is that it necessitates “clearing your mind”. Forget that — it is never going to happen. The human brain is a little-understood marvel of nature, and it never shuts down as long as you live. That’s fine, but problems occur when too much of your mental bandwidth is consumed by worrying over the future or ruminating about the past.
Mindfulness acknowledges that the present moment is all that we really have. So, meditation is about existing in the present moment. Find a quiet space, sit, and breathe. Your thoughts might wander, which is okay. Simply observe them with compassion and without judgement. Focus on your breath. And repeat. It really is as simple as that.
In our consumer-driven world, the emphasis is so often on lack, unfulfilled desire, and endlessly working to pay for the next big purchase. We rarely take conscious stock of our blessings in life, whether they are in wealth, health, loved ones or just moments of happiness. It may be cliché, but the essential things in life cannot be bought.
Mindfulness encourages us to notice moments of pure joy, wherever they may arise, and to practice gratitude. Nobody has everything they want in life, but everybody has at least a few things worth celebrating. And when you shine a light of awareness on those things, the joy has a funny way of multiplying.
Part of mindfulness is fostering an attitude of curiosity: about yourself, about others and about the world around you. One great way to feed your naturally analytical mindset is by visiting museums and galleries. With an ever-changing roster of exhibitions, art galleries are a brilliant place to take time for yourself, while stimulating your mind and engaging your senses.
Museums of all kinds are a treasure trove of information, offering a glimpse into the past or a different perspective on the world. Why not practice cultivating active awareness at one of these places? Your subjective experience will be different every time, creating endless opportunities for inspiration.
Guest Writer Bio
Harper Reid hails from the beautiful “City of Sails” – Auckland, New Zealand. Writing is her passion and therapy. As a fun-loving introvert, she enjoys occasional road trips and nights out with friends, but also loves retreating to her own little space with her favorite classic novels. Her hobbies include hiking, reading literary fiction, wine tasting, and yoga.