What is mindfulness? Where can you apply mindfulness in your life?
Mindfulness is to be present with what you are focusing on, in that moment. There are many different ways you can apply it within aspects of your life. We can start by creating a mindful habit that will help with being more present at the moment. This helps with the ability to be able to have non-reactive moments when fear or anxiety takes hold.
Here's an example of myself as a single parent. Being constantly busy and always thinking of the next thing on the never-ending to-do list that needs to be done. Even when going to bed my brain doesn't shut off and thinks of something on the list and I think of what I missed that day.
How do we go about being present at the moment? Or rather how do we pull back the focus of many thoughts to what we are doing right now?
One technique that I was raised with is that I only focus on one task at hand. This can be hard when distractions come in the form of a mess, my kid’s wrestling, or them being so loud all I hear is them. Pulling my focus back to what I was doing before the distraction is not as easy as it seems.
Let's talk about when you're not distracted. Have you noticed that when you're so focused on the task, new ideas or thoughts might pop up while you're figuring things out? You're creating present moments where you're not thinking of anything except what needs to be done presently. Opening up for more ideas and understanding since you're mind isn't trying to figure out the next thing.
What can you do during your day to create a more present habit?
Well, you can start with when you're brushing your teeth, taking a shower or even making your bed. While yes you've been doing them your whole life and now don't need to think about it. Being on auto-pilot takes away from being in the present moment. Do you remember when you were first learning? How you had to focus on doing it slowly and correctly, like brushing your teeth? You were present and focused on what you were doing.
If you go back to the curiosity of learning to do something new, you'll see where you're normally doing things on auto-pilot. This can be applied to many things you do already. Such as when you're grocery shopping, working, cleaning, cooking, or any other task that's been done on autopilot. While you're going off that To-Do list, try bringing in moments of awareness to what you're working on at that moment.
Remember you can use all your senses to be in the present moment, what do you see, smell, feel, hear, or taste? Another exercise you can do while bringing in the habit of being mindful is taking a walk. Think of how you're taking a step, how your foot feels when it hits the floor and you lift your next leg to take a step forward. What do you see? Is it hot outside or cold? Are there cars driving by, and dogs barking? Is someone cooking food or are the flowers in bloom? Did you just step on a rock? Hoping it's not a big bug you just squished.
It's okay if you do get distracted and forget to be mindful. For myself when there is so much going on, I do tend to forget to be mindful. Instead, I fall into anxiousness as I'm just trying to think of how I'm going to do this or that task. Learning to be gentle with myself while figuring out this journey of mindfulness hasn't been super easy either. Yet it's something that has been one of the best lessons I've had in my life.
It is hard at first and will take a lot of practice to be able to be mindful. It is so worth it in the end. I noticed that since I started to be present in the things I do, it has helped me to see how I'm treating myself and others. I find myself being more patient with myself, my family, and my co-workers. I have observed that it has helped me be more present with my children. Becoming aware of my reactions to what they might be doing. Something that I noticed was some of the ways I was reacting to my children was how my parents had reacted in the same situation.
What did I get from learning to be mindful?
Bringing mindfulness into some of my routines has created a habit of being mindful. Where patience and awareness have come naturally as a habit when life seems to be throwing a lot my way, it will help to create a space around you that improves your life and those around you. Please, allow yourself to be gentle as you learn to be mindful. I've had to put in some effort and there are still times when I slip up, yet overall things have improved and my overall quality of life has improved.
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