You’re probably aware of the mantra of ‘living in the moment’. It’s almost the catch cry of the 21st century, at least among the wellness-minded.
But do you actually know what it means to live in the present?
For many of us, we only live in the present a fraction of the time, and instead, we dwell on the past, churning through thoughts about current problems, and worry about the future. We’re living in our minds, unconnected to the world around us or our own body or being.
This means we’re missing out on most of our lives, leaving us feeling unsettled, hollow and bereft of meaning.
The good news? We can learn to be more present and mindful.
Here are 5 powerful ways you can practice mindfulness in your daily life.
Understanding what mindfulness works on
First, to effectively practice mindfulness you have to understand the division of what’s happening up there in your head.
Your ego or psyche is the background voice you hear. The one that won’t let you relax when you’re lying in bed at night. The mental dialogue in your mind goes on and on and on. It keeps your body tense and prevents you from experiencing true growth.
It’s important to get to know the internal voice that controls your life. If you’re not aware of the ego-mind and how it’s running your life, it’s time to step back. You are too “in it” at the moment. You first have to become aware, which means observing the mental voice.
1. Try this exercise
Say hello to the one in your mind. Just internally say hello. Who says hello and who hears hello? It’s you who’s talking and it’s you who are listening.
The best way to become free from the constant chatter that’s feeding you terrible ideas is to step back. Look at it objectively. Thoughts are just an object of the mind, something that should float by and not be held onto or rejected.
As you’re mindful and watch the voice, you’ll begin to see that most of what it says has very little meaning. It fusses about the past and uses old experiences to try to control current and future experiences. This causes all sorts of problems in your life.
If you want to become free from your own mind, you have to be mindful enough to really see what’s going on up there. When you learn that a lot of your actions come from some unreasonable voice that craves comfort, you can begin to make different decisions.
So, mindfulness can heal many things but how do we achieve it? One of the pathways to quiet the mind and go inside of ourselves is through meditation.
2. Daily meditation
Meditation isn’t difficult and yet its simplicity intimidates many.
This is because your ego doesn’t want to be quieted. It tells you that you’re too busy, that meditation is pointless, and that it’s too weird and spiritual for you.
What’s really going on is that the ego is terrified of becoming quiet. Slowing down and going in means there’s the potential of confronting uncomfortable feelings. You gave your ego the job of avoiding discomfort or perceived danger.
When we meditate, there is a great risk of running into past pain.
Mindfulness through your meditation allows you to finally deal with old wounds so you don’t have to live with them anymore. That means that they no longer have control over you.
To cultivate mindfulness, you’ll want to take time out every day, but this shouldn’t be a chore. The mind will chatter and tell you it’s bored. Just keep observing the objects of thoughts and feelings moving through you.
The more you practice, the more you’ll look forward to having that time to yourself. Think of it as a day in the spa or getting a massage. Once you get into it, that centered feeling makes you feel as relaxed as 30 minutes in a sauna.
While you’ll begin to experience benefits almost right away, the more you practice mindfulness, the greater the benefits will be.
In both Buddhist philosophy and modern psychotherapy, mindfulness is achieved through meditation.
There are a variety of different ways to meditate too, so don’t sit in lotus pose and burn those incense sticks just yet. Meditation is the umbrella for healing and within your meditations, you can do many things for the body, mind, and soul.
Mindfulness meditation is not about changing or altering yourself in any way. It’s about becoming aware of who you are. As you sit in silence, things will come up. As you look within yourself, memories may come up as though they are a movie on a screen.
If you stay in the seat of consciousness without getting sucked in, you can learn a lot. You’ll know if you get sucked in because you won’t let images go. You’ll get emotionally involved and tension will start to build up.
Buddha said that the source of your suffering is trying to run away from your direct experience. Staying in a pleasant moment from your past is equal parts of suffering. Holding on to things keeps you in the past and it’s simply not healthy for your psyche.
[This is an excerpt from Hack Spirit’s latest eBook on the Art of Mindfulness. The Art of Mindfulness is a clear, easy-to-follow introduction to the life-changing power of the mindfulness phenomenon. In it, you’ll uncover a set of simple, yet powerful techniques to elevate your life by the steady practice of mindfulness. Check it out here.]
3. Sit with your experience
When you focus on being mindful, you can sit with your experience.
Practicing mindfulness through focusing on your body, mind, and soul will allow you to become more powerful. The more you do this, the more you shut out the ego and the better you will feel in all parts of yourself.
With closed eyes and a relaxed body, focus on your breathing. Listen for sounds that are nearby or even far away. Scan your body to get a sense of what is relaxed and what is holding tension. If you have an itch, notice the itch but don’t try to change it. Just move through it.
This is good practice for just being mindful without trying to do something about it.
Sometimes, life is uncomfortable like an itch. Sitting with the experience will allow you to see that things come and go.
Anxiety can creep up in your belly or you may experience a tightness in your throat while you meditate.
The mind is telling the body that there are too many things to do. When you do experience tension in the body, you can touch that area with your hands and internally say, “This too.” You’re acknowledging your full experience without trying to change it. This is mindfulness.
Say you’re sitting outside in a park, everything is fine until you see two people clearly in love. Suddenly, loneliness kicks in and nobody is around to ease the feeling. This sliver of loneliness has always been in your heart.
It’s not always activated but can arise at any moment. You become weak and it feels like your heart is sinking. Other times you’ve felt alone are triggered and stored energy from the past comes to your mind.
How do you solve the problem without calling someone or using an old tool to quiet down your thoughts and feelings?
Simply notice that you noticed. You are the subject and you are what notices. Those feelings of emptiness are objects. Your way out is to notice who is feeling the pain and loneliness. Let the feelings pass through without running away or avoiding them.
Mindfulness does not mean becoming involved in the drama of the mind. It’s about noticing the way the mind and body are responding with full acceptance.
The sensitive person in you who has had many experiences will feel afraid, needy, and jealous from time to time. This is the psyche and the ego at play. You are the one who is mindful, you are the indwelling being who is aware.
To tap into the part of you that sits watching over this human experience, you just have to stay totally centered.
All of what I’m saying may seem very complex for some who have never practiced mindfulness. It only takes one time of not reacting and instead observing your experience to understand the process I’m talking about.
Meditation is a great practice for moments that bring uncomfortable emotions.
4. Practice yoga
The fourth way to practice mindfulness is through yoga.
Yoga actually taps into parts of the body that affect your mind and soul. So when you’re upside down, you allow blood to flow through in a way that promotes better heart health and more clarity.
There are many kinds of yoga such as Hatha, Kundalini, Yin, and Vinyasa. What they all have in common is that they promote mindfulness through stretching, balancing, and breathing.
Deep stretches in the hips alleviate anxiety, which is something that affects the mind. Toxins leave the body, which allows you to think more clearly. T
The ancient practice of yoga was designed, in part, to promote mindfulness. Half of yoga is the breathing that promotes stretching, balancing, and strengthening.
Ujjayi breath, along with meditation in yoga, brings up compassion in you and quiets the mind. You become more aware of what’s happening inside you with the courage to experience whatever comes up.
5. How to do Ujjayi breath
1. Start in a seated cross-legged position. Relax the body and close your eyes. Allow your mouth to drop open a little and relax your jaw and tongue.
2. Before starting with the breath, focus on inhaling and exhaling deeply through your mouth. Notice the air and how it passes through your windpipe.
3. When you inhale and exhale, contract the back of your throat as though you were whispering.
4. As you breathe out, imagine yourself fogging up a window.
5. It should sound like ocean waves once you get the hang of the breath.
6. Now close your mouth, breathing only through your nose.
7. Focus on the sound of your breath, as it can relax your mind.
8. Breathe in deeply, allowing your lungs to expand fully.
9. Doing this breath for 15 minutes as a form of meditation is the ultimate way to bring focus inwards, promoting mindfulness.
Yoga really is a fundamental practice for meditation, which is how we best practice mindfulness.
You learn to focus on the breath and bring all your attention inward. You let distractions go and learn to just slow down.
Cultivating the practice of yoga can be a grand adventure. As you continue the journey and try new poses, you bring in new energy. You become aware of various parts of your body you didn’t even know were carrying tension.
Techniques within the yoga practice can also help you cope with uncomfortable sensations during challenging positions.
Mindfulness on your mat deepens the practice of yoga and allows you to truly relax. The physical body is prepared through poses to promote you through deep meditation ridding you of distractions and conflicts.
This is an excerpt from Hack Spirit’s latest eBook on the Art of Mindfulness. Written by the mindful experts at Hack Spirit, this eBook is filled with practical tips, information and easy-to-follow mindful techniques to live a more peaceful, productive life. “The Art of Mindfulness” provides a blueprint for living the life you’ve always wanted. Check it out here.
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