“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” This is a powerful quote to remind everyone that there is no other time to live but today. In the present. In the moment.
It can’t be helped to be distracted, instead of being focused on the fleeting moments of life. The hectic schedule is getting on your nerves. The impending deadlines are on your mind all the time. The school term is getting more difficult and cramming gets the best of you. Influences from people dear to you are also affecting you in different ways. Also, your worries about all aspects of life make it hard for you to relax. These responsibilities with family and more are escalating your stress, making you feel burnt out or knocking you down.
Pause for a while. Breathe out all the negative forces. Just focus on things that make you happy or calm. Keep your mind off the hustle and bustle of your busy schedule. Stay in this moment for a longer time. When you’re done, your mind is at ease and your heart is at peace, and you’re going to feel relaxed. This is as if you’ve hit the reboot button and everything just went perfectly back to normal, tranquil and smooth. So instead of angrily lashing out at people or at yourself, you’d project a smile, a happy one. And then you can go on doing things with a light heart.
This is just one of the benefits being mindful can have. Paying attention with purpose in the moment is what mindfulness is all about. But these words are not enough to elaborate what it is and how it works. The term might make you Google “zen style”, the monk’s way of thinking or even yoga. Mindfulness is part of these different things but you don’t need to do those just so you will learn how to be mindful. And the key to it is to focus on the present, not the past or the uncertainty of the future. It is living life in the present moment, dealing with difficulties instead of escaping, feeling gratitude for whatever comes and being compassionate to yourself and to others.
It does sound easy but keeping it in your daily life is difficult. You have to make it consistent, a habit, a virtue. Here are steps you can practice daily until being mindful becomes a part of you.
Breathe in, Breathe out
It is a piece of cake to be upset, say hurtful words you don’t mean and feel so guilty afterwards. This is what stress, pressure and responsibilities can do to you. But instead of immediately reacting, take a minute to back off, breathe into your inner self and breathe out the adversity. If you are ready, you can face the challenge with a calmer mind and a composed self. You can also do this with all other things, like when jitters overpower you during first experiences (exams, games, public speaking) when things don’t go as well as expected, or even when you’re just starting your day.
Focus on the moment
Deadlines can be nerve-wracking. But giving in to the pressure makes it hard for you to notice the fleeting moments of your life. This will lead to not enjoying what you do, thinking about negative things and deciding to leave. As much as possible, take your time. Gather your thoughts. Do not rush into the things that you think you should do. Notice the seconds of your daily life. With this, you will feel gratitude and start appreciating the moment. Chew your food slowly and you’ll notice how delectable it can be. Watch your kids at home without doing something and you’ll feel how blessed you are. Listen carefully to the small talk you have with your partner and you’ll see your relationship grow stronger.
Being mindful does not mean you need hours for mindful breathing or meditating. In fact, you just need a few minutes to start so it would be easier for you to implement it in your daily routine. Even short sessions of mindfulness will get your day started on the right foot.
Take a break
Straight hours of work, school or household chores can be tedious and demanding. It might cause you to lose focus. Take a break from the long hours. You can go for a walk to breathe in the fresh air and get a new perspective. Or you can listen to music that calms your mind.
With a perennial to-do list, our default mode seems to be to multitask. This method has been proven efficient but not effective, and this can lead to more work done but less precisely. So take on one task at a time. You can’t focus unless you set your attention to one thing instead of juggling many tasks at the same time.
The waiting time
People spend time waiting in line to do groceries in the supermarket, waiting while stuck in heavy traffic, or even waiting at the bank. On the flip side, waiting can mean time to take a break. Optimize this moment to do a mindful breathing, to relax, to let your mind wander freely. Next time you are waiting for a walk in dentist, or sitting on a bench at a bus stop, take it is a bonus time for you to do meditation or mindful exercises.
All other forms of distractions, like gadgets, should be avoided. Like multitasking, distractions take away your ability to concentrate. You can always schedule when to check your phone. The people and the shared moments are more important than the distractions that keep you away from them.
Everybody has a purposeful life. It is through a state of mindfulness that we learn to live it, to face challenges and to learn how to appreciate even the littlest things. Start your journey to a more focused you and you will learn how to love life.