Growing a Mindful Life
By: Sandra E. Anderson
There has been much talk about mindfulness, especially during this past year. The everyday practices of mindful people are available. They do a variety of things, for example being present in the moment without judgment of thoughts and feelings, or beliefs.
I like Jon Kabat-Zinn’s definition: “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way. On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” When mindful in the present moment, you become aware of things that create happiness, better health, deeper wisdom, balance, and greater soul connection.
It’s been an honor to meet, and get to know, inspiring people who live and breathe mindfulness into every day. Some choose a life of religious study or teaching, but most are everyday people. Some are family and others friends. Here are six practices gleaned from mindful people and tips on how to grow a more mindful life. As you read through them, pause to see which ones speak to you.
Choose to pay attention “on purpose.” First, to have a more mindful life, choose to create one…on purpose. Mindful people practice monitoring and observing what thoughts are showing up in their minds. They hold on lightly to them. They don’t believe their thoughts and don’t take them all seriously. When they see familiar patterns of thoughts and beliefs, they question them to see if they still work and believe them. I can be aware that I am crabby, but that doesn’t mean I am mindful. To be mindful I would have to be purposely aware of myself and observe all of the experience…then use my awareness to adjust. When you see your thoughts in your mind, you are being mindful.
Mindful people feel what they’re feeling. Just because someone practices being mindful doesn’t mean they are always happy. They are in the practice of being in the moment with complete acceptance of that moment as it is. That means allowing whatever is showing up in the moment, without trying to resist or control it. There will be times they feel unpleasant emotions. Mindful people feel anger, sorrow, and even fear. What sets them apart is they don’t try to run or deny the emotions. They may make use of a simple phrase in those times as a reminder to stop, hear, see, and feel what is coming up for them. They know that emotions, both pleasant and unpleasant, are feelings in motion, a natural part of life. I really enjoy the phrase “Whatever you resist continues to persist.” Instead of running from it, observe it, walk to it, through it, and out of it. Mindful people take on the observer role. They can respond rather than react, making better and wiser choices.
Mindful people accept that change happens. This is a fundamental law of life. Everything is constantly changing. Nothing is permanent. It is all energy and energy flows and moves. It does not die, but it does change form and starts a new. We can use our five senses as a practice in mindfulness. Such as listening to tones and sounds as they grow and fade away. We can watch with our eyes, over time, the season changing, infants becoming children, or a seedling growing into a tree. Our five senses gather sensations, emotions, and thoughts that come into our growing awareness. We are born on Earth; we grow up, grow older (hopefully wiser), and eventually pass. Highly mindful people cherish, honor, and understand that there will always be change and transition. Because of change, they are grateful for the gifts that each moment and day bring.
They meditate…a sacred pause. You can still be mindful and not meditate. But, every mindful person I know has a regular moment to pause and meditate. When I stay in my practice of meditation, it helps me to stay aware and present that my inner attitude determines my happiness. It creates clarity and peace for the ups and downs in daily life. Try starting your day with five to ten minutes of meditation in the morning. Smile, you have created good energy to carry through the rest of your day.
Really, do one thing at a time. Grandmothers have said do one thing till done before going to the next thing. Because you get done faster, and do it better (with less mistakes). Studies have shown Grandma is right; when people divide their attention on more than one task (multi-tasking), it takes them 50 percent longer to do it, and they are 50 percent more likely to make mistakes. Doing tasks mindfully is doing one thing at a time in full awareness about the task at hand. When changing to a new task take a break, like cleaning up, or enjoy 5 min. break before starting the next.
Create mindful moments. Everyday tasks like doing dishes, shoveling snow,snow, doing laundry, weeding the garden, or eating a meal can be a place to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is a creative energy. Wherever you place your focus and energy becomes your experience. Take a moment to pause and focus. Feel the texture, sounds, and aromas. Observe your thoughts and any feelings. Whether it is short or long, appreciate that time you took.
Sandi Anderson is an intuitive life and soul coach and healing touch practitioner; owner of Healing Intention, located in Chippewa Falls, WI . Her focus is to inspire and empower people to create, heal, and thrive into their best life.