Did you know that you can develop a mindfulness practice without meditation?
When you hear the word mindfulness, what comes to mind?
Do you think, “I don’t have time to meditate every day”? Does it seem that bringing more mindfulness in your life can’t be easy? Well, guess what, it can be a lot easier than you think!
Mindfulness practices originally came from eastern meditation techniques and yogic practices. Today, it mainly involves being aware of your thoughts and emotions as they arise and then allowing them to pass without attaching yourself to them.
By doing this we free ourselves of dwelling on painful feelings and unhealthy emotions and allow ourselves to exist in a balanced state of awareness, intelligence and a peaceful happiness.
It’s common for people to think that when we stop being controlled by our emotions that we stop feeling our emotions.
This isn’t true.
When practicing awareness, we still notice the thoughts and feel the emotions as they come up but we allow them to quickly pass by not giving them the energy we did before.
By not focusing our energy and attention on the thoughts and emotions, we’re able to become more objective in our reactions. We begin to interact instead of reacting.
By interacting with a situation, instead of reacting to it, we’re able to make healthier decisions in the moment. Sounds a lot like being an adult, doesn’t it?
No longer are we allowing our emotions to dictate the direction of our lives. We begin to understand how we feel about our environments and are able to make grounded and objective steps that will lead us, and those around us, in mutually beneficial directions.
Practicing mindfulness helps you increase your emotional intelligence which, in turn, helps you bring more peace in your life, success at work, and happiness in your relationships.
So, how do you learn to do this without having to sit and chant “ommmm” every chance you get?
The easiest way to bring more awareness and focus into your life is to simply focus on your breath while you’re going about your day.
It may sound too easy but it’s the simplest way to create that space in your thoughts that you’re looking for.
This can be done almost everywhere and anytime. No one, except for you, will know you’re doing it.
The steps are easy are 1, 2, 3….
- First, take a breath. It’s best if it’s a deep breath, but it doesn’t have to be. Any breath will do. Feel the air hit your nostrils and then going into your nose. Notice how it hits the back of your throat before getting pulled into your lungs. Feel your lungs expand as they air fills them. Notice how your body feels as the air sits for a moment in your lungs. Does your body feel strong? Is there tension in your body or do you feel relaxed?
- Second, exhale and follow your breath as it travels up your throat and out of your nose.
Once you’ve exhaled, tell yourself that you are safe and there’s no need to be afraid. Doing this will actually activate your nervous system so that you begin to feel calm.
- Third try to become aware of your environment.
How your feet feel in your shoes? Are the shoes comfortable or too tight?
How is the temperature of the air around you? How does it feel on your skin?
You can notice the brightness of the lights.
How comfortable your chair is (is it hard or soft? What parts of your body does it touch?) and whatever else you want to bring into your attention to.
This, again, will help your mind and body calm down.
By doing this you develop a way to instantly focus your mind on the here and now.
How does this happen?
Our minds can only focus on one thing at a time. If you’re stressed then it’s most likely that your thoughts are racing which makes it difficult to calm down. In fact, it’s probably making your heart rate increase and increasing your stress response. By focus your awareness on your breath and environment, you’re forcing your mind to distract itself and focus on one thing only.
This creates space for you to readjust and take back control of your reactions.
After practicing this for a while, you’ll begin to notice your thoughts as you do this. As they come up, let them go like clouds in the sky or cars passing on the street. Acknowledge them but don’t become attached to them.
You are not your thoughts. Like well worn grooves that water flows, your thoughts are a combination of chemical and electrical impulses that naturally occur in your brain.
I’m going to say that again.You are not your thoughts. Your thoughts are a reflex that you have no control over and can not stop.
The sooner you accept this, the faster you’ll master your emotions.
The good news is that you can train them down different pathways in your brain.
The most important step you can take is to learn to watch your reactions and feel your emotions while understanding that they’re simply old habits and nothing more.
As you practice you’ll find that you’ll be able to start observing your reactions – even for a split second – and begin to find your awareness in the space between your thoughts.
Mindfulness is what will help you find this space.
In my next post, I’ll give you a simple and very effective method to redirect your thoughts so that you can begin to take control of how you operate in the world and stop fighting with it so that reality can become your new best friend that leads you towards your version of true happiness.