We live in a fast-paced society, where it is easy to lose ourselves in the white noise. The newer generations are more impatient than the previous ones because they have a lot more to juggle, and they don’t want to lose time. Most of us are multitasking throughout the day, which is exhausting for our body and mind. Day by day, we are getting more forgetful, and our actions are becoming mechanical. We are accustomed to a monotonous routine that inhibits personal growth; we have trapped ourselves inside a box, which is our mind filled with intrusive and negative thoughts.
What is mindfulness and does it deserve all the hype? There are many different definitions of mindfulness on the internet, which more or less convey the same concept. To be honest, mindfulness is something the entire world population needs right now; hence, understanding and practicing it is definitely worth your while.
What is Mindfulness all about?
Many social media influencers and lifestyle bloggers promote mindfulness, as it helps improve mental and physical health. A lot of people use ‘mindfulness’ and ‘meditation’ interchangeably, which is confusing and inaccurate. Meditation is one way of achieving mindfulness, but it doesn’t really help if someone tells you to meditate in order to become mindful. Meditation has many forms, thus it is a vague term on its own.
Mindfulness is a state of mind that allows a person to live in the moment. You become fully aware of the present by focusing all your senses to it. This entails that you push away all thoughts and concerns related to your past and future. The present is here and now, so it is all that matters and lies within your control. You need to seize the moment without judgement, taking in one thing at a time. Attaining this mindset requires ample practice and strong will.
What are the 5 Steps to Mindfulness?
Many of us assume that our brain is separate from the rest of the body. In reality, the brain is the center of all corporeal functions, which makes it a part of the body. Training our body to be mindful can be life-changing in the best way possible, and it doesn’t involve any rocket science. Learning to be mindful is a gradual process, but you can start today by practicing these five simple steps:
1. Tune in to your Breathing
Panic and anxiety has become second to our nature, since we’re always in a hurry and overthinking things. We breathe all the time to remain alive, but we do it unconsciously. Our mind remains occupied with a hundred different things, but luckily we don’t forget to breathe. Next time an emotion overwhelms you, or it feels like you are breaking under the weight of stress, tune in to your breathing. Concentrate on the breath you inhale and exhale in each breathing cycle.
Close your eyes, breathe in and out deliberately, and relax your muscles. Repeat this several times, until the tension built up inside you dissipates. Breathing exercises are usually the first thing physiatrists recommend their patients to calm down, and they are truly effective. You may imagine the expulsion negative energy during exhalation, and derivation of positive energy through inhalation.
2. Explore the Five Senses
You can block out the distracting train of thought in your head by contemplating on your immediate surroundings. Appreciate the sights, smells, and sounds that accompany you right now. Feel the texture of the ground you stand on, or the surface you sit or lie upon. Give in to the different sensations experienced by your body in the present and open your mind to all the possibilities. Listen to the person in the same room talking to you instead of answering a text on your phone; look at them, perceive their emotions, draw in their scent, and notice the variations in their voice.
When you converge your senses upon a being or object that shares the current time and space with you, virtual or distant qualms will fade away. The purpose of this exercise is to divert your attention from the events that have already happen or could potentially take place in the future. Make the most of the moment you live in rather than wasting your energy over something insignificant and irrepressible.
3. Concentrate on a Single Task
The human brain is not meant to multitask, no matter how high your IQ and physical stamina. When you try to accomplish several tasks simultaneously, chances are that you will mess up at least half of them. If you are in the middle of a work assignment, do not browse social media, munch on snacks, and take a call at the same time. This way you may push your brain into overdrive, which will lead to stress and fatigue, whilst greatly reducing your productivity.
The mindful approach is to shut off all distractions while you’re supposed to work. When you focus on a single task, you can finish it quickly without hiccups. If you feel tired halfway through an assignment, you can always take a break to fuel up, make a call, or check on social media notifications. Life gets much easier and your body remains at ease when you stop intermingling excursions.
4. Savor every bite
Food is vital to life and it brings us happiness every day, yet we frequently take it for granted. A perfect example is when we binge eat while watching T.V or working on a computer. We hardly even taste our food on these occasions, and consume a great deal of unwanted calories. We typically go for processed grub or junk food; this habit is referred to as ‘stress eating’ and it’s extremely hazardous to our wellbeing. The right way to deal with abnormal food cravings is to eat mindfully. Leave whatever you are doing and fix yourself a healthy snack.
Every mouthful of food is to be chewed about 10-30 times; the lower limit for soft foods and the upper limit for harder and stringy foods. You should take in the aroma, let your taste buds soak in every ingredient, and relish every morsel – everything else can wait. When you make conscious food choices and savor every bite, you are unlikely to select unwholesome options and overeat.
5. Walk with an open Mind
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) claims that a person must take 10,000 steps per day to maintain sound health; this is equivalent to walking a distance of five miles or eight kilometers). Unfortunately, many of us do not even fulfill half of that quota; the average U.S citizen takes no more than 4000 steps a day. We walk all the time within the premises of our home and workplace, but that kind of walk is not mindful. When there’s a lot on your mind and you need to relax, go outdoors for a nourishing walk.
Instead of fretting over all the thoughts that made you anxious in the first place, take notice of what is happening around you at the time. Pay attention to the natural and manmade landscapes, stop and sniff the flowers, listen to the birds chirp, walk barefoot on grass, and hug a tree. If you’re walking by a busy commercial street, eavesdrop on interesting pieces of conversation between strangers, get a whiff of freshly baked/fried goods, and indulge in the variety of colorful sights the marketplace has to offer.
Elijah Cole is the founder of The Witty Minds blog and a professional content creator. His expertise lies in creative writing and lifestyle blogging. At Witty Minds, he is the lead writer, editor, and publisher of all original content.