“The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Does your mind ever feel like it’s racing 100 MPH without the ability to slow it down? Multiple thoughts racing around inside your head without any control of them? In that moment in time, all you want is some peace within.
You’re interested in practicing mindfulness to improve your life. Everyone has different goals, whether to reduce stress, feel more present, or get rid of anxiety. Our heart has a tendency to lead us toward something we need, but where do you start? Basic how-to instruction isn’t enough to actually develop your mindfulness practice into daily life habit.
Mindfulness isn’t just a practice in a form of sitting meditation. This would limit your practice. One of the great things about mindfulness is that it will be available to you in every moment, ready to create peace and joy within yourself.
If you think you aren’t the “mindful type,” you’re giving up too soon.
I used to spend a lot of time inside my own head, and even I wanted to slow this racing mind, but I couldn’t. Think about this: you will never speak to anyone more than you speak to yourself. At the end of my days, my body would be exhausted, and my mind still racing, feeling a mental fog. My journey started when I became self-aware of how my mind works and finding a solution to its madness. I started reading a lot about meditation and mindfulness. Most recommend to “just sit, observe your breath for 30 minutes.”
In order to start you off on your mindfulness journey and avoid mistakes, I’ve organized a list of my mindfulness tips for beginners just starting out in their practice to living more mindfuly. Keep in mind that the purpose of the tips below aren't instructions on how to practice, but rather tips to start off in the right direction.
Mindfulness is the state of being consciously aware, to be aware moment-by-moment of our thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. It is the fundamental human ability to be fully present, no matter what we are doing or where we are.
Concentration is the core of mindfulness. Think of it as an active force in the practice and mindfulness being passive. Concentration is the anchor and mindfulness is the ship. You’re the captain and in charge of where you set the anchor (concentration). In this case, we need to consciously decide to focus on your breathing.
In the beginning, you’ll see your concentration wander to different thoughts and sensations, distracting you from your breath. Your mind will literally be all over the place every few seconds. This is totally normal. When you become aware that your mind wanders, that is your mindfulness acting like the observer.
Just practicing this alone will simply quiet the mind, which can bring a sense of peace and happiness. Concentration is the first step in order to improve the practice of mindfulness. You’ll soon start noticing when your mind wanders (was it a thought or feeling?) as opposed to allowing your mind to race.
When you start developing concentration, you will want to pick an object of meditation. I highly suggest practicing mindful breathing. The simplest form of mindful breathing is 4-7-8 breathing.
Whether you’re at your desk, running between errands, or a nurse charting, just stop what you’re doing and practice mindful breathing. Focus your concentration on each exhale and inhale and let your mind quiet down. If your mind is still racing and wandering, understand that it’s okay, don't judge, and keep practicing. Consistency brings results.
Mindfulness is an observer. You shouldn't be passing judgment. Openly accept everything; that includes your thoughts, feelings, and sensations that actively pop into your mind. These are just simply distractions to your concentration that will subside as your mind quiets overtime. Remember, don’t get frustrated when you lose focus often. These are all stepping stones to develop your mindfulness.
Sitting meditation is like returning home to give full attention to and care for our self. Adopt a daily practice of sitting in a quiet distraction-free zone. This is the foundation of meditative practice and is essential to get to the point of a quiet mind. After you learn breathing and concentration, seated meditation will aid your efforts to achieve an empty mind.
We’re taught to multitask, move quickly, and be as productive as possible. We’re used to rushing around all day and simply forget there is another way to live. It is highly beneficial to analyze your daily habits, finding opportunities to practice mindfulness.
With that being said, mindfulness will take time to develop, and patience is the virtue to have for this journey. At first you won’t close your mind and have confetti drop from the sky. You will feel a little more present and a little more alive. With practice mixed with patience, you’ll notice your ability to be mindful will improve. Remember, mindfulness is just like a muscle. The more you train the muscle, the stronger and more efficient it becomes. The muscle that you’re growing is mindfulness, and with proper training, it’ll develop into a powerful tool for peace and happiness in your life.
Remember, being mindful is available to you at all times. Your mind is always with you; you just need to choose when to become aware. If you keep practicing to just learn to stop and follow your breath, you’ll transform how you feel on a day-to-day basis. Let go of everything. The more consistent you become, the easier it’ll be and the better you’ll begin to feel.
Be mindful, not mind full.
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Call it intuition, instinct, or a gut feeling: if we followed it, we just might be a lot happier. Intuition is a skill we are all born with, but one we submerge in the business of modern living.