A mindful life is a meaningful, peaceful and fulfilling life. When you are mindful, you are present in the moment and hence doing something that you found valuable. Let us try and understand how to imbibe mindfulness in our lives.
How to be mindful in a distracted world? What is mindfulness? Tell me all about mindfulness. The questions fill up the Google search bar from people around the world. Why is mindfulness so important in the 21st century?
There could be several examples of mindfulness in everyday life. Besides sleeping, when our minds are at rest, we can literally place mindfulness in every other activity in your life.
Well, look at your life. How often you are 100% committed to the moment? I should be asking the same question to myself because I get easily distracted as well by beeps on my mobile phone or random sounds from miscellaneous places. Even if there is no sound, it is not easy to concentrate on the job at hand.
How do we live in the moment? This is the challenge of mindfulness. How do we get so engrossed in what we are doing that we forget what is happening around us?
Let us try to address these questions in detail in this article. As a writer on happiness, I believe that mindfulness is critical to our wellbeing and state of joy. So, we will look at mindfulness from multiple perspectives for a holistic understanding of the term and its usage in our lives.
The origin of mindfulness
Mindfulness dates back to the time of Buddha when he taught it as a part of the teachings. The essence of mindfulness as per The Satipatthana Sutta—The Establishing of Mindfulness Discourse is focus. Mindfulness means how to be mindful of the present and stay focused on it.
According to the Buddha, the objective is to remove the unproductive thoughts while keeping the productive ones. The act of breathing in and breathing out and staying focused on it helps in mindfulness since we are only focused on the breathing process.
Shifting focus to the mind, to the body
Being mindful means to be conscious of what’s happening. You may consciously make effort to shift your focus to the body and observe what’s happening to the body. Is it still? Watch if your spine erect? Is it peaceful or there is pain?
Similarly, you can take your focus to the mind and observe the thoughts consciously. You can also observe the nature of your thoughts and if they are productive for you. The field of mindfulness is quite vast in itself and there is a lot of research that has gone into it post Buddha.
Meaning of mindfulness
There are several definitions available on the internet and in several books on Buddhism. However, in its bare essence, mindfulness is being able to do what you are doing with your complete concentration. This is could be multiple manifestations in our lives.
We could consider a few for discussion.
Just look around at your lunch hour in your office canteens. People are eating and are scrolling their mobile phones simultaneously. They are multi-tasking. They could be eating faster because they have a meeting to rush to. They are talking to someone constantly while the food receives no attention whatsoever.
Mindful eating is eating consciously. It pays attention to the food and the process of eating. You take your morsels consciously and you eat slowly. You do not talk. You observe the impact of the food on the body. You care that you have food to eat and appreciate it. You eat when you are hungry so that you are not eating just because it is time.
If you would want to cultivate mindful eating, you would also want to look at the kind of food you eat, and the source of the food. You would consciously choose why you choose a particular kind of food over another kind of food. You appreciate your food.
Try to practice mindful eating in your everyday life. You will not only find better health, but also more gratitude.
Mindful walking is walking consciously and without distraction. You would not carry your mobile phone so it doesn’t distract you. You would pay attention to your steps and your thoughts.
It is a blissful way to enjoy your company and reflect on your thoughts while you walk. Even runners enjoy a similar experience on long runs since they cannot get distracted. The experience is marathon running is therefore, quite a meditative experience where the runner focuses completely in what is going on in this mind and body and cannot get distracted even if he/she wants to.
Now, we understand from these two examples that mindfulness can be applied in any area of your life. The goal is that whatever you do, do it mindfully.
Let us say that you are working on a note that needs to go to your boss. Or anything else for that matter. You could apply mindfulness to the activity by ensuring that you are not distracted and focused on the task at hand. It will reflect in the quality of your work.
There are several things we can do to improve mindfulness in our work lives:
A. Putting the mobile phone on silent
If we place the mobile phone on silent while we work, it will allow us to focus on the task at hand with 100% attention. The internet on the phone, calls distract us and we are not able to finish what we started. In fact, you can schedule blocks of work together so that similar blocks of work are done together.
B. Choosing a peaceful environment to work
A peaceful work environment is important for mindful work. Create it in a way that you can give your work your total attention for the best output possible. If you would want to immerse in your work, you can’t have too many sounds coming from multiple places.
C. Do work you are deeply interested in
When you do work that you are passionate about, or deeply interested in, it is easy to focus than when you are doing something that doesn’t interest you. Choose your work consciously so that it is not a burden. It is hard to be mindful in a task you consider dull and boring.
D. Eliminating distractions
The goal of mindfulness is focus. If you wish to work mindfully, you need to eliminate all ways that could distract you physically or mentally. Be inaccessible to anything beyond the task at hand.
Mindfulness in personal life
Just like in professional life, you can imbibe mindfulness in your personal life.
A. Schedule your personal time
Just like your professional hours, you need a block of time which is personal time so that your family knows when you are available for them. This would create predictability and you would be able to give your undivided attention which is the goal.
B. Listen mindfully
Listening obviously applies to all areas of our lives but we mess it oh so often. When you listen to your partner or your family, listen attentively without distraction. Listening makes people feel important and improves relationships.
C. Do not take distractions to your personal life
Avoid distractions like television, mobile phones and internet during your personal time. They take away from the depth of enjoyment and reduce the quality of quality time.
Benefits of mindfulness
Now, we know that we can be mindful in all areas of our lives. But, is it worth it? Well, you would need to try it to know it.
Try and inculcate mindfulness in all areas of your life. The possible benefits of mindfulness could be several. Here are a few to get us started:
Focus in the key takeaway from mindfulness. It makes the process more enjoyable and worthy. You feel that you are immersed in what you are doing, and it doesn’t feel like a burden. You do not waste time and get more done than you would otherwise do.
Mindfulness will definitely build your mental and emotional muscles. When you focus on everything that you do with your mental and emotional strength, you will become way more disciplined that people who are easily distracted.
When you eat mindfully, walk mindfully, live mindfully, you will not end up wasting your life living unconsciously. You will be enjoying the process and every activity will a different state of joy.
You will feel more confident of yourself than ever of being able to do tasks that other people find difficult to do, because of your sheer ability to focus. Distraction takes away from output and depletes confidence.
Thank you for reading.
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