Category: Mindfulness

5 Tips for Your Daily Mindfulness Practice

5 Tips for Your Daily Mindfulness Practice

Mindfulness requires constant practice. The more you do it, the better you are at being mindful. However, it is almost impossible to be mindful from the moment you wake up in the morning to the time you fall asleep at night. So, instead of trying to be mindful 24/7, it is easier to focus on small chunks.

Here are some tips for your daily mindfulness practice.

1. Set your mind positively from the start

When you wake up in the morning, the first thing you need to remind yourself is that you can set your mental state for the rest of the day. This is especially important if you have the habit of waking up grumpy, not looking forward to the day or with the mentality of having to fight through another day.

Your early morning mental state sets the tone for the entire day. Contrary to your limiting belief, this mind state is within your power to set. You do have a choice, provided that you are conscious about it and not merely functioning on autopilot as soon as you wake up.

To set your mental state, pause for a moment when you wake up in the morning instead of jumping out of bed and running around to rush to work or to whatever you do in the morning. Take a moment to be with the calmness of your mind in the early morning state. Feel the quietness, the peace.

If you are habitually negative in thoughts, focus on three things that you are grateful for. Allow that positive mental state or gratitude to stay for a while. Enjoy this state. Soak it all in. This will help set the tone for your day.

2. Cultivate a habit of introspection

Ordinarily, we put our attention more on external events and experiences than inwardly in our mental landscape. It is important to put aside some time for looking inward as great insights and self understanding can come from this. To cultivate this habit of introspection, slot into your daily schedule some space to simply be with yourself, alone. Even a 5 minutes space will suffice.

Use this space to pause from your hectic daily schedule, to slow down, to find momentary relief, to rest. Center yourself in the present moment by bringing your attention to your breathing. When your mind is centered in the now, it is at rest, not worrying or feeling anxious about the future.

3. Put a space between the experience and the experiencer

This is a practice in being non-judgmental or non-reactive to experiences. Notice how easy it is for you to get caught up in the drama when you personalize or get caught up or suck into all your experiences. Instead, learn to simply watch the events and experiences unfold as if you are a non-partisan scientist curious about how things work. This opens up your mind to more possibilities. There is more than one way to interpret the events or experiences. There is an alternative perspective.

4. Listen attentively

This and the next tip are essential for good communication and relationships. Learn to listen attentively, without your mind wandering away to your own personal things when someone is talking to you. You have to actively remind yourself to focus on the person’s speech and not allow your mind to stray, as is so often the habit.

To be able to listen actively and attentively like this is good training for your mind to be in the present moment. More importantly, it shows respect and care for the person communicating with you. People can sense that you are genuinely there for them, that they are important to you.

5. Speak impeccably

To speak impeccably is to speak truthfully, choosing only things that are beneficial and appropriate to talk about. This is called the triple filter test.

First, is it true? Speak only the truth. If it is not true, why say it?

Then, is it beneficial to the listener? If it is not going to benefit the listener, why say it? What is your motivation? Is it more for your personal agenda, or pride or ego?

Lastly, even if you are going to say something true and beneficial, is this the proper time and place to say it? Is it appropriate now, or should it be said at another time or another place, in private rather than in public?

Living Skills: Mindfulness and Letting Go

Living Skills: Mindfulness and Letting Go

Living skills are skills that help you to live your life better. Unfortunately, living skills are often not taught or emphasized in schools. Thus, most people acquire living skills from the “school of hard knocks” – through experiences in life.

There are many living skills. Two of the most important and useful skills are mindfulness and letting go.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is effective in noting the arising of our thoughts and in recognising the contents of our thoughts and beliefs. It is particularly useful in changing the self limiting beliefs we have that is preventing us from unlimited possibilities. Since changing these unconscious self limiting beliefs requires that we first identify them, mindfulness plays a crucial role in this identification process.

When we are mindful of the thoughts and beliefs in our mind, we can then work on replacing limiting beliefs with wholesome and life-enhancing ones.

How can we increase our mindfulness? We can do that through meditation.

Meditation, when done on a regular basis, increases our mindfulness and allow us to gradually peel away layers upon layers of negative mental and emotional imprints, and creating rooms for new positive and life-enhancing beliefs and imprints. This process is often compared to peeling the layers of an onion. Some compared it to tending a garden.

Another way for us to identify our self limiting beliefs is through the Option Method, which was created and introduced in New York City around 1970 by Bruce DiMarsico.

Bruce had studied psychology and philosophy. Years later, while working as a psychotherapist and human relations consultant, he developed the Option Method as a self-help tool for people to become happier in their everyday lives. Option Method uses a series of questions to help you identify and clarify what exactly is bothering you. The questions that follow then expose the belief behind your emotion or bad feeling. As the questions open the door to your heart, your true feelings will become evident.

Letting Go

The ability to let go complements mindfulness. Mindfulness allows us to be aware of our negative thoughts, beliefs and feelings. With the awareness and insights we can then let go of them.

Since we spend almost every waking hours seeking, acquiring, grasping and clinging on to things, we have the tendency to resist letting go. In fact, most people find it extremely difficult to let go of anything and particularly of feelings and beliefs. This is because we have learned to identify our feelings and beliefs as ourselves. We think we are our feelings and beliefs. Thus we fight and struggle to keep these feelings and beliefs in an effort to preserve our SELF, regardless of whether they are useful or harmful to us.

One method of letting go is through mindfulness itself. When we are aware of our negative thoughts and feelings, which often hide in our subconscious mind, we can then decide to let them go. So mindfulness and letting go come hand-in-hand.

Another method of letting go unwanted feelings is to actually allow ourselves to feel the negative feelings, and then ask ourselves three important questions:

1. Could I let it go?
2. Would I let it go?
3. When?

The answer to the first question is always a “Yes”. We can always let go of anything, even long standing and major mental and emotional imprints.

The second question is more personal. “Would I let it go?” is intended to give yourself the permission to let it go. For some people, it may take a while to give a “Yes” answer to this question. It is perfectly alright. In fact, this step cannot be rushed so take your time. You need to convince yourself (and no one else) and when you are ready and willing, then say “yes” to it. In some cases, going through and completing the forgiveness process is essential to finally allow yourself to let go.

The last question, “When?” gives you a time frame. The best time is of course “NOW” but this again depends on whether you are mentally and emotionally ready to let go. It is perfectly alright to choose a time that is most appropriate for you.

This method that I have just described was created by Lester Levenson.

Mindfulness is a different state of mind

Mindfulness is a different state of mind

If you are new to the practice of mindfulness, the first thing you need to do is to be totally familiar with its definition, for hidden in plain sight in the definition is the clue to your successful practice.

Mindfulness, as defined by Jon Kabat Zinn, is paying attention purposefully, in the present moment, in a non-reactive way. The object of your attention or focus can be an external object, such as a flame on a candle, or an internal object. The three common internal objects are your body, emotions and thoughts.

For a beginner, it is easiest to start with the grossest object – one that is easy for you to focus on. In this respect, most beginners start their mindfulness training by learning to be fully aware of their bodily sensations, postures as well as noticing with greater details the daily experiences of the interactions between the five physical sense organs and the external objects.

For example, you can begin to become more mindful of your eating experience by remembering to be as fully aware as you can with the mechanics of chewing, tasting and swallowing each time you eat. You can also observe the movements of your limbs as you climb the stairs. Even while you are sitting and working at your computer, you can purposefully pay attention to your sitting posture, the pressure on your buttocks as well as the position of your spine and the various groups of muscles that are getting tense as a result of your posture.

The second reason why beginners should begin their mindfulness training with the body is that the body anchors you in the present moment. Unlike our mind that can be way into the future or in the past, the body is always in the present. For this same reason, learning to be aware of your breathing is important because this is a quick and simple way you can use to re-establish your attention in the here and now when your mind has wandered off.

Since paying attention to such mundane things that we have taken for granted is not something we do everyday at the conscious level, this is the first mental habit that we need to cultivate – to train our mind to focus on the objects of our conscious choice. This is by no means an easy first task as our everyday mind already has a well established habit of running all over the world with its attention, never staying with an object for any extended period of time. This everyday mind is what we called the monkey mind, for it behaves exactly like the restless monkey that jumps from one branch of a tree to another and never staying long in one place.

Next comes the next stage of learning to observe all our bodily experiences, and mental experiences, without being reactive to them. To achieve this, we need to train our mind to observe non-judgmentally so that the experience is not seen or filtered through our biased lenses. Again, this is a very different state of mind compared to our everyday mind that we are used to. Our everyday mind has the automatic tendency to prejudge things, people and events with our own likes and dislikes, which means we do not experience things as they really are. Instead, we experience them as we imagine them to be.

To be mindful, this non-judging quality is crucial as it is this quality of an open and curious mind that will give us a totally new perspective in our daily experiences. This is the beginner’s mind that is open to all possibilities. When done right, mindfulness leads to a new state or quality of mind.

It is in this state of mind that you will begin to see things as they really are, free from your own filters, biases, prejudices, assumptions, beliefs and expectations.

Like all skills, it is the constant and continuous  practice that will make you a better practitioner. Learn it now and habituate it in your life, and you will see your life transformed.

Mindfulness: A Powerful Transformation Tool

Mindfulness: A Powerful Transformation Tool

The word “mindfulness” is often used in association with meditation, and in particular with Buddhist meditation. Mindfulness in this sense is not simply awareness. It refers to a particular quality of awareness.

We already have awareness in our daily life. After all, we do not go through life in a coma. We know that we are aware of many things. For example, we are aware when we cross the road. We are aware when we eat or watch a movie or play a game. So what is the difference between this form of awareness and mindfulness?

There are two important qualities in mindfulness. The first is knowing, which is also present in our everyday awareness. However, it is the second quality of non-judging and accepting it as it is that makes mindfulness different from our everyday awareness. And this is an extremely important difference.

When our everyday awareness knows something, it immediately or habitually analyzes it, evaluating it, judging it. Then it decides whether it is something it likes or dislikes, and it reacts accordingly. What it is attracted to, it wants more of it. What it is averse to, it wants to run away from it, hide it, bury it or ignore it. So, in this sense, our everyday mind is constantly doing something or looking for something to do. This has become such a powerful habit that the everyday mind actually finds it difficult to “not-do” anything.

Mindfulness, on the other hand, is non-judging, accepting and allowing. It does not personalize the experience. When we practice this form of awareness in our daily lives, we will soon see a difference in the quality of our lives. Life becomes less of a struggle, more joyful and peaceful. Stillness of the mind actually becomes possible. Fear gradually diminishes and loses its power over us.

To quote Thich Nhat Hanh, “Fearlessness is not only possible, it is the ultimate joy”.

 

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