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The Gift that Keeps on Giving: Mindfulness

Right now in this moment, ask yourself what state am I in? Check in with yourself and notice. What energizes you? Do you play images from the past or worry about the future a lot? Do you have thoughts constantly running through your mind?

Managing yourself requires inner life skills. Every person can develop them. Learning how to create a deeper and more meaningful connection with yourself by using tools like mindfulness will help you feel more awake and in control of your thoughts, feelings and life. You become more compassionate and less critical of yourself and others. As your ability to focus and your sense of awareness improve your inner life skills will develop. Mindfulness is more practical than it is spiritual and it can positively impact every area of life.

Notice your thoughts.

A constant stream of thoughts is quite different than awareness. When you inhabit awareness you are simply observing. You can observe your thoughts, emotions, reactions, mood, sensations or environment. The observing feels neutral. You just simply notice. It’s like meta, observing yourself from within yourself without judgment. You consider the effects of your actions, instead of simply acting out.  You are being mindful instead of mindless.

It works like a time delay does on live TV; a  split second check-in to prevent a mistake or unacceptable content from going live. Being mindful offers the same protection. You go inward to a neutral space and quickly observe before choosing how to be. You come to realize there are always multiple choices in every moment. It is easier to choose wisely as you get more skilled at being mindful. Imagine how many moments in your life could have gone better with this quick safety net in place.

There are other benefits too. Your inner stability gets stronger the more you practice. Mindfulness helps you develop what can only be described as presence; a stable, calm inner power. Who doesn’t want more of that in their life?

So how do you get good at mindfulness?             

A daily meditation practice helps. Meditating helps your mind gradually become more calm and still. As the volume and quantity of busy thoughts become quieter and less important, you have a greater opportunity to focus and direct your attention where you choose throughout each day. Even meditating for five minutes a day will bear fruit.

Meditating helps your focus get stronger.

Let’s say you decide to focus on your breath while meditating. You keep watching your breath – moment by moment, by moment. Each time a thought pops in and interrupts, you redirect your focus back to your breath. This happens quite often especially for beginners. Your focusing ability gets stronger each time like a muscle doing reps lifting weights.

Mindfulness boils down to three simple sounding steps. (It requires lots of practice to master.)

  1. Focus.
  2. Go to neutral.
  3. Observe and be mindful.

Being mindful helps you see life with fresh eyes. Instead of being on autopilot, you can choose to be present in each moment. Everything depends on your perspective and your choices. Perhaps you choose to see your partner’s wonderful qualities and not take your relationship for granted – each time you interact. It can affect the way you show up with friends, co-workers, your boss, neighbors and family members. It creates a way of living that can bring kindness and caring into everything you do.

Even simple things can feel more exciting. Colors can seem brighter; food taste better. It’s like listening to a song that makes you want to dance. You feel more alive. Because change is constant and every moment presents many options. As you play with this idea, it can provide all sorts of opportunities. It is enlivening. Each moment is new.

Even when a problem presents itself, and they always do, mindfulness helps. Being mindful can quiet your mind, relax your body and calm your nerves. You can catch a negative thought pattern before it takes you into a downward spiral. When you are more aware and less reactive, you can problem solve more easily. Mindfulness helps you manage life better.

Most importantly, being mindful improves the relationship you have with yourself. An inner flexibility develops as you become more accepting of present-moment experiences. You feel less self-critical, more kind. And you stop judging constantly. The more you practice mindfulness, and your ability to focus and be aware improves, calmness and wisdom will likely grow and flow into every area of your life.