Everyone is talking about Mindfulness.
So much so that you might not care about it.
You’ve probably seen annoying memes or quotes about the present moment. I get it. I don’t like these superficial tidbits of information either.
But there’s a reason mindfulness has entered the mainstream. It’s not fluff.
Scientifically, it is a huge deal. Research studies have suggested that practicing mindfulness and meditation may reduce stress and anxiety, may prevent and treat depression, may improve memory and focus, and may even benefit immune system functioning.
At Hack Spirit, I often get asked what mindfulness is and how to practice it. They know it’s about “living in the present moment” but what does that even mean?
I got tired of answering these questions, so we’ve decided to lay out my personal 11 principles to practicing mindfulness.
If you want to learn more about how to practice mindfulness, I highly recommend you check out the book, Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Jon Kabat-Zinn uniquely explores the many different facets of mindfulness. It’s a practice about non-attachment, being non-judgmental, kind, and living in the present moment.
So without further ado, here are my 11 principles to practicing mindfulness:
1) Live in the here and now
This famous quote from Buddha sums up this principle best: “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”
The past is an illusion. The future hasn’t arrived. The only real thing is what’s happening right now.
2) A negative thought is harmless unless you believe it.
Thoughts come and go all the time. It’s natural. Suffering occurs when we attach ourselves to our thoughts. The reality is, our thoughts don’t mean anything, and they’re not who we are.
When you take a step and observe your thoughts from a distance, you realize that if you’re watching them, then they can’t be you. Eckhart Tolle says it best:
“What a liberation to realize that the “voice in my head” is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that.”
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3) You will not be punished for your anger; you will be punished by it.
We all get angry from time to time, but acting on this anger rarely results in something positive. It’s easy to get angry, but real courage involves doing something productive about it. When you realize that the present moment is all we have, you’ll come to understand that life is too short to spend time being upset and angry.
As Lao Tzu said:
“The best fighter is never angry.”
4) Inner peace is knowing how to belong to oneself, without external validation.
Many people are concerned about what other people think of them. But you don’t look to others to find yourself. You are who you are and what others think about you doesn’t make a difference to that.
Here’s a quote from spiritual guru Osho that provides some inspirational advice on why you shouldn’t care what other people think of you:
“Nobody can say anything about you. Whatsoever people say is about themselves. But you become very shaky, because you are still clinging to a false center. That false center depends on others, so you are always looking to what people are saying about you. And you are always following other people, you are always trying to satisfy them. You are always trying to be respectable, you are always trying to decorate your ego. This is suicidal. Rather than being disturbed by what others say, you should start looking inside yourself…
Whenever you are self-conscious you are simply showing that you are not conscious of the self at all. You don’t know who you are. If you had known, then there would have been no problem— then you are not seeking opinions. Then you are not worried what others say about you— it is irrelevant!
Your very self-consciousness indicates that you have not come home yet.”
5) Everything is created twice, first in your mind and then in your life.
Our brains are powerful instruments, and they create the world around us.
And the truth is that you won’t act unless your brain knows what you’re doing. So have your plans and goals in place, and then take action.
“The future depends on what you do today.” – Mahatma Gandhi
6) We must walk the path.
Life comes with many challenges and adversities for everyone, but the one thing with have control over is how much effort and willpower we put into something.
We can’t attach our happiness or success towards outside objects. It all lies within us.
“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We must walk the path.” – Buddha
7) To strongly believe in something, and not live it, is dishonest.
Don’t bend to what “society” wants you to be. Don’t change who you are so other people will accept you. It’s important to be authentic and follow your heart.
Characterize yourself by your actions, and other people’s words will never fool you.
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is younger than You.” – Dr. Seuss
8) The right path and easy path are rarely the same paths.
You’ll eventually come to realize that struggle is what makes you grow, and it’s always worth it. While every step may be tough, it will lead you to where you want to go. Just because something seems difficult doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. It’s all the more reason to chase your goals.
“Those who have failed to work toward the truth have missed the purpose of living.” – Buddha
9) If you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also want the costs.
So many people ask themselves questions like “what am I passionate about?” to find their purpose in life. However, a better question is “what is worth suffering for?” This will help you find what you truly want to do, and your life will be more fulfilling because of it.
Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.” – Eckhart Tolle
10) Over-committing is the antithesis of living a peaceful, mindful life.
So many of us have a massive to-do list filled with tasks that we couldn’t possibly finish in one day. We think we have to be busy all the time. However, sometimes it can be more rewarding to focus on one task at a time and mindfully be absorbed by it. We also need time to rest and appreciate the beauty of life.
“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.” – Steve Maraboli
11) When you try to control too much, you enjoy too little.
As human beings, what is it that’s so alluring about control? We desire certainty and comfort.
The irony is that there is no such thing as control. We are never in control. Ever. The sooner we grasp this and learn to go with the flow a little more; the easier life will be.
“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” – Chinese Proverb
NEW EBOOK: If you liked this article, check out my eBook The Art of Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Living in The Moment. This guide is your doorway to the life-changing benefits of practicing mindfulness. No confusing jargon. No fancy chanting. No strange lifestyle changes. Just a highly-practical, easy-to-follow guide for improving your health and happiness through mindful living. Check it out here.
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