Five Ways To Develop Mindfulness
September 18, 2020
Most of our life happens on autopilot.
Our habits, reactions, impulses, routines control us, and we are not even aware of them taking over.
A few days back, after a difficult work-related conversation, I was chatting with my son on his schoolwork, when, out of the blue, he asked me – “Dad, is all ok- you look very serious?”
Unconsciously, thoughts about the previous conversation were bouncing in my mind. The emotional residue of those thoughts was still inside me, a couple of hours after the actual conversation has ended. So, here I was, conversing with my son superficially while my mind was somewhere else. Until my son pointed it out, I was not even aware of my mental state or how it showed up in my body language.
Mindfulness can be described as “an ability to recollect” or “knowing what is happening while it’s happening“. It is also our ability to pay attention to something.
Therefore, Mindfulness is a skill all of us need to develop to operate efficiently in our personal and professional spheres.
In teaching our minds to be present, we teach ourselves to be live more mindfully — in the present moment, not hostage to our to reactive thoughts and feelings. When we are in a state of Mindfulness, we are naturally more efficient at whatever we do. Problem-solving, dealing with challenges, creativity, connecting with people, being compassionate.
How Does One Develop Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a trainable competency. The more you consciously practice it, the better you get at being present. You become aware of your thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them. More importantly, you become aware of your distractions and judgments.
Here are five things I do to train myself to get better at being Mindful.
- Mindful Wake-up: When I wake up, I don’t jump into my morning rituals. I sit up straight(keeping my spine erect) and consciously connect with my body’s sensations. I observe the rise and fall of my belly and chest as I inhale and exhale with energy.
- Mindful Eating: I pay attention to the process and sensations of taste, chewing, and swallowing when ingesting any food. Instead of being in a hurry to eat my lunch or dinner, I slow down deliberately. I pay attention to the food I am consuming with full awareness.
- Mindful Workout: I go for a morning walk every day, and I spend the entire time observing everything around me- The blooming flowers, the lush vegetation, the feel of the ground under my feet, the smell of the fresh morning air, and cut grass. My mind does keep wandering. But, with intention, I keep bringing my attention back to the experience of walking.
- Mindful Pauses: Throughout the waking day, at least once every hour, I take a conscious break. I check back with my breath and observe my inhalation and exhalation. I observe the sensations in my body and my emotional state. Sometimes, when I am in the midst of a hectic day, I forget to take the pauses. It’s ok because I eventually remember. With practice, I have become better at taking mindful pauses.
- Mindful Journaling: I have written about this a few times. Journaling has many powerful benefits. It forces me to focus my mind and get clear about my thoughts and feelings. The quality of my writing doesn’t matter. Journaling helps me make sense of what is going on in my head when I put my thoughts and emotions into words.
Like any other skill, we need to practice Mindfulness to become better at it.