This may not actually be true, as so many things we believe aren’t, but it certainly feels like we as humans are busier today than ever before. Our days are longer; we work more, get involved in more community activities and keep our kids busy as well. The weeks go by in a rushed haze and we live for the weekends, often our only time to rejuvenate – If we haven’t already made plans. We keep ourselves and our minds so busy that is it not surprising we are exhausted, overwhelmed and unhealthy.
We have become a culture filled with constant stimulation via television, the internet or our phones. We are subjected to relentless advertisements begging us for our attention. Our minds are jam packed with our schedules, to do lists as well as regrets from our past and worries about our future. And yet at the same time, psychology urges us to be more mindful. How can we even begin to be mindful when our minds are so full?
Mindfulness is the process of stopping to understand what is going on in our minds. Being present with our thoughts or more specifically whatever it is we are doing in that moment. Being mindful is fully engaging in an activity either at work or at home. It means we do not allow ourselves to be distracted by other things going on around us. Completely engaging in our activities on a daily basis not only keeps us from feeling overwhelmed but it allows us to live our lives to the fullest. Yet mindfulness in any moment in time is not easy to accomplish.
Beyond understanding the overall concept of mindfulness: a mental state that is attained by focusing on the present moment while also remaining non-judgmental about one’s feelings, thoughts and sensations; putting mindfulness into actual practice is just plain HARD. Like mastering yoga hard. Or running a marathon hard. Or going gluten free hard. Being mindful does not come naturally to most of us, especially those who have worked to perfect the art form of multi-tasking. Paying attention to our breathing, noticing the nuances of our surroundings or being still, take time. And if we are honest with ourselves, many of us would rather be getting something productive done. But what we fail to realize is that in ignoring mindfulness in lieu of business or what we consider productiveness, we limit ourselves and our lives.
The act of being mindful begins with your breath. All you have to do is stop and breathe. Notice that you’re breathing, feel the air moving in and out of your lungs. Attempt to clear your mind by focusing on your breath. When a thought inevitably shows up, don’t judge it or yourself. Just refocus your mind on your breath traveling in and out of your lungs. Savor the present moment. Relax into the silence. Instead of a full mind, you have accomplished the art of being mindful!