Being More Mindful
Photo credit: @katrin_boyadzhieva
Ana is a busy woman every day. One day as she was about to end her day, she got so worked out of how her whole day went that she realized something unusual.
This is how her full day went:
She woke up a little earlier than usual, but because she was so used to waking up a minute or two passed her alarm, she hurriedly prepped herself for work made herself coffee and toast, ate and drank them, washed them quickly and left her unit. As she started her car, she saw the time and just realized laughingly then that she was a tad bit early, almost on time actually for the first time in ages. And she thought, how did she reach her car that easy?
She arrived at her office, started her work, and letting the day pass.
However, today is just like those days wherein she would have someone to argue with; the only difference is that she is so busy and fed up she said something she regrets but cannot take back but only realized this at the end of the day. Working hours passed, she went to her car and drove to the gym. As she was about to step out of the car, go inside the gym to change and start her routine, she asked herself suddenly, how did she arrive in the gym parking space when what she last remembered was being in her office desk? Pushing that thought aside, she went inside the gym. After her gym, she went straight for dinner. Today, it was different. She didn’t want to prepare her dinner, so she went to a health shop and ordered her usual wheat bread with tuna and tomatoes and a kale juice. And as she was about to take a bite, it just occurred to her; she hasn’t noticed anyone familiar as she walked in going to the store wherein she usually sees one or two she knows. Pushing that thought aside again, she finished her food, returned to her car, and went home.
As she arrived home, she went straight to bed. As she was about to sleep, all the thoughts from earlier occurred to her again. And she just thought how she responded and reacted to an officemate who was beyond her boundary and blurted out words she regretted and had no idea how it just came out that way, without filter and patience. How she was able to wake up earlier than usual and how she went from places to places without giving a thought of things and passersby along the way was puzzling.
Ana’s story is an example of being mindless and allowing the brain to go on an autopilot mode instead of taking over the wheel and leading the way.
I’m pretty sure you have experienced such days like Ana because I do too. There are days when we just are letting “autopilot” take the way, forget being mindful only to realize that as the day ends — then regretting it because we could have lived the day a whole differently. Why does this happen to us? Why do we let the business of today rule over our mindfulness and our role to take over and pay attention? What is it really to be mindful of? And firstly, what is mindfulness?
What does it mean to be mindful?
Being mindful is being the opposite of Ana.
Mindfulness is taking control of the journey, of disabling the autopilot and making yourself the pilot. It is about being aware of your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and surroundings without judgment. In being mindful, you pay attention to purpose, and you accept whatever is going on in your present and again make no judgments. It is taking responsibility for whatever your thoughts, words, and actions are. And being mindful is making your mind one with your body. Meaning, wherever your body is, you make your mind present as well.
What can it do to you?
As you learn and become mindful in your day-to-day, this will benefit your whole wellbeing. Being mindful reduces stress, anxiety, and depression. It shrinks the brain’s fight or flight system or what is called the amygdala. The amygdala is the one associated with fear and other emotions. It is the one involved in the body’s response to stress. Another benefit of being mindful is that it reduces insomnia and increases the sense of wellbeing. It also improves emotional and social intelligence plus develops your empathy and compassion, making you have an improved relationship with others. It is all simply because you’re making yourself at present. Be involved and being physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally present.
Tips to become more mindful:
Are you still having a hard time being more mindful? Below are my top three tips on being more mindful:
1. Practice the two forms of mindfulness.
According to an article by Melli Obrien entitled What is Mindfulness? (and What Does it Mean to You?) there are two forms of mindfulness. These are:
(a) Formal Practice of Mindfulness
The formal practice of mindfulness is simply the meditation exercises one does. It is most commonly done when sitting down with eyes closed, or it can be performed when lying down or walking. In simple terms, this form is when you put yourself in a meditative state or when you perform meditation exercises. However, on the other hand, the second form of mindfulness is
(b) Informal Practice of Mindfulness, is being mindful of your day-to-day life. This is the mindfulness we all should have practice. This is the practice wherein we notice any tendency of ours in beating our self hardly and expecting to notice more things, even the pains. This is the form wherein we embrace relaxation and let the mind be one with the body. In this form, we become the exact opposite of that of Ana. We become more mindful as we wake up, make our breakfast, drive, be at the office, interacting, and so on.
2. Practice mindfulness right when you wake up and during routine activities.
In doing this tip, make sure to bring your awareness as you wake up and as you do your daily activities, even those you usually put on autopilot mode. What you can do is just what Ana was unable to do. Be mindful as you wake up, make your breathing, mind, and your whole self, one with you where you are. Be mindful and pay much more attention as you stand up on your bed, make breakfast, and all other daily activities you do. Feel, taste, see, hear, and smell all your activities.
3. Let that mind of yours, wander.
Human minds are natural wanderers, and this is a good thing. But in practicing to be more mindful, we let our mind wander actively and you non-judgmentally, lovingly, and gently bring it back to present.
Being more mindful is not that hard. Yes, it takes a lot of effort but it something you could do with ease. Always remember that to be aware is to be responsible and to be present — to make your mind one with your body. And with that, meditating is one of the forms that could help you achieve this. And since meditation exercises are more or less about breathing. Start with being present in your inhales and exhales then project that to whatever you’re doing, you’ll be enlightened on how a simple combing of the hair is interesting.
Do you have any similar experiences like Ana? I’d love to hear from you!