If you thought mindfulness was just for monks, think again. Mindfulness often has many misconceptions surrounding it. These include:
- Mindfulness is only for practicing Buddhists. Other religions can’t participate
- I need to set special time to become mindful
- Mindfulness requires a special understanding of Buddhism
- Meditation is a sophisticated process. You can’t integrate it into everyday life
In reality, mindfulness is nothing more than a state of mind. It’s a healthy form of self-actualization that unlocks focus, empathy, and self-realization.
Phase 1: Discovering Your Center
Mindfulness is the kind of practice that starts from the inside and slowly gravitates to what you’re doing on the outside.
Before you start applying mindfulness into your everyday life, begin by synchronizing yourself and finding your center.
Control Your Attention: The modern world has limitless stimuli. With our mobile devices pinging every second, it’s almost impossible to concentrate on doing one thing.
If you really want to get into a meditative state, you should be able to control where your thoughts are going. This includes a constant presence of mind as opposed to absent-mindedness.
If you are doing one thing, try not to shift your attention to something else. Keep doing what you are doing and just keep thinking about that one thing.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words: You can convince yourself that you’re in a meditative state but it won’t matter if you’re easily distracted by everything around you. And it’s not just about distractions.
It’s also being conscious of everything that you’re doing.
Instead of relying on muscle memory, take the mental energy to really focus on the world around you.
Stop being on auto-pilot. If you’re talking to someone, make sure you’re actually listening to them instead of just saying you’re listening to them.
If you’re working out, make sure that you’re moving every muscle with purpose as opposed to letting your limbs flail aimlessly.
Always Ask Questions: It’s easy to fall into a mindless routine and do the same thing everyday. Don’t get me wrong: the problem isn’t with with consistency or stability.
This becomes problematic when you keep doing things for the sake of doing them. When you do your routine, always ask yourself these questions to reboot your mind and ensure that you are living life with clear intent:
Why am I doing this?
Is this a necessary part of my life?
What can I do to improve this activity?
Phase 2: It’s All About Now
Mindfulness has always been about the “now”. After all, you can’t relive the past or peer into the future.
To be truly mindful, you must master the art of focusing on what’s happening around you as it happens.
Let Go Of The Past, Leave The Present Behind: People will always have history. It’s natural for us to worry about the future or feel sad about the past.
But it’s not healthy to cling onto what could have beens and if onlys because you start taking the present for granted.
Instead of wondering how you could change or prevent things, focus on improving your current situation.
Thinking about the past or the future is a way of escapism and prevents you from solving today’s problems.
Here are some positive affirmations you can use while meditating to prevent your mind from wandering into the past or the future:
- My situation may not be ideal but there’s always something I can do to fix it
- The past and the future are out of my reach but the present is here for the taking
- My current situation does not define me, I can always strive for change
[To dive deep into mindful techniques that can help you live more in the moment, check out my eBook on the no-nonsense guide to using Buddhism and eastern philosophy for a better life here]
Phase 3: Application
After you have taught your brain to focus on what you want it to, you’re ready to apply mindfulness in everyday interaction.
Some people like to think that being in a meditative state calls for higher forms of spirituality.
In reality, being mindful can just as easily translate to being kinder, more compassionate, and more hardworking.
Become More Discerning: Mindfulness puts you in a state of mind that allows you to see the situation for what it is.
In turn you develop better interpersonal skills because you are not clouded by judgment.
You base decisions on the now instead of letting your fears, anxieties, and histories shape your choices.
Better Self-Control: At the end of the day mindfulness is all about going back to the self.
Even when you’re applying its principles to external stimuli, it’s always going to be about yourself.
You learn to control anxiety and use those to improve your current situation. You learn accountability and self-responsibility.
You learn to control your emotions as they come and go, giving you the opportunity to act appropriately.