According to Psychology Today, being mindful is being in a ” state of active, open attention to the present. This state is described as observing one’s thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad.” Alan Watts describes the concept as this, “becoming almost like an infant knowing nothing. Nothing that is, except what you actually hear, see, feel, and smell.” Others have referred to it has “the practice of returning again and again.”
Staying busy is not the answer
In the thick of graduate school, an internship, work, maintaining relationships, and volunteering, I had a friend present the idea of mindfulness to me. When I heard about it, I physically craved it. Yet, I also resisted it with all my might. I had it in my mind that I wasn’t doing something with my life if I wasn’t staying busy. I had convinced myself that productivity equated to success and meaning in life. In reality, I was just in a constant state of anxiety.
When I finally allowed myself to try being present in the here and now, I saw the benefits firsthand. Without labeling my state of being as good or bad, I found moments of peace. I realized there is a lot of beauty and growth in the present moment. For example, noticing the way the breeze feels or how the grass smells. Similarly, I found that stillness and peace can provide insight and drive progress.
Challenge yourself to be mindful
As one beggar leading another beggar to food, I urge you to do the same. Give yourself permission to implement mindfulness practices into your everyday life. Additionally, allow yourself the grace to not do it all perfectly. Be kind to yourself. This self-compassion is a consistent message in the practices of mindfulness.
If my own experiences don’t convince you to move forward with mindfulness practices, then the facts might. Research has stated mindfulness can alleviate stress, anxiety and depression. Researchers also found mindfulness can, and typically does, increase insight and curiosity. People also tend to experience an increased sense of peace and kindness towards oneself. SCORE!
Trying anything that is new or unfamiliar can be inimidating. If you aren’t sure where to start, check out some of my favorite ways to be mindful:
Find the Rainbow
This mindfulness exercise involves taking the time to find each color of the rainbow. This should be done in the environment around you, in the present moment.
In this exercise, you identify five things you see, four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
Inhale for three seconds, hold it in for five seconds, and exhale for seven seconds. Breathe normally for a few breaths then repeat. This is said to help mimic our breathing while we are sleeping, therefore, bringing about peace and relaxation.
There are endless ways to be mindful. If you have mastered the above ways, then keep exploring new activities and mindful practices. This keeps it exciting for you as well as offers the benefits. For example, search “body scan meditations” on YouTube.