In a world of constant distractions, mindfulness is truly revolutionary. It transforms your experience of reality by slowing down the ego-mind, thus connecting you to the flow of your life from a place of greater clarity and peace.
Being mindful means being fully present in what you do. Whether it’s walking, eating, working, doing dishes, or playing, your presence of mind aligns you to deeper aspects of your soul that grant you a glimpse into the eternal presence of Divine Consciousness.
Mindfulness is innate, but in this age of uncertainty, anxiety, and high tech gadgets, it requires ongoing mental discipline. The constant chatter of your ego-mind, the identifications with other people’s behaviors, and the attachment to what’s comfortable or familiar get in the way. You must consciously bring yourself to the present moment and manage your energy wisely to avoid getting scattered or depleted.
From the moment you wake up till the time you go to sleep, your mind is active and engaged in the world in some way. You’re working, talking, driving, shopping, cooking, cleaning, reading, watching TV, and so on. The only exception may be when you meditate, if you’ve developed the discipline to do so regularly (see 3 Reasons Why Daily Meditation Is Essential). Other than that, your attention is on your external reality and, along with your energy, continuously pulled in different directions; and more often than not, to meet other people’s needs.
If you don’t give yourself permission to pause and re-center, it’s easy to lose touch with what you need to take care of yourself. Imagine a book written without separate chapters or paragraphs—a long series of sentences without any of the conventional, expected breaks. Or a long musical composition with no silences to give it the melodic phrasing and breathing room we’re all used to. Rather than enjoying them, you’d feel exhausted and overwhelmed. Well, that’s how you live most of your life: non-stop and on autopilot!
Cultivate Introspection & Self-Awareness
The ancient sages of India recommended all married couples to spend a week in silence out of each month and/or a month apart every year to intensify their spiritual practices, develop mindfulness and introspection, and rejuvenate their relationship. Nothing helps to cultivate mindfulness and mental discipline more than spending time in solitude, detached from the usual worldly preoccupations and distractions, immersed in the task at hand while observing yourself.
You may not have the leisure to do this for long periods, but you can certainly do it in a more concentrated manner. For instance, you can spend a day of silence by yourself—with no computer, phone, TV, or any other technology or distractions—bi-weekly or monthly, either at home or in nature, exploring yourself, pondering life, and immersing in spiritual practices. Then you can continue nurturing inner silence on a regular basis by anchoring yourself in the present with your breathing. Along with daily meditation, here are some pointers to get you started.
When you wake up:
- Sit on your bed and take a few slow, full breaths. Connect to your body, stretch, and relax before starting your day. If you remember any dreams, write down just a few words that will help you remember them later (you may skip this if you tend to rush into the day).
- Close your eyes and repeat your favorite mantra or prayer for a few minutes, as a reminder that the main purpose of each day is to surrender to Divine Consciousness.
- Set the intention to be mindful and present in everything you do and say, with love and compassion for yourself and others.
Throughout the day:
- Check your breathing. Where is it at? Is it shallow or deep? Is it quick or relaxed? Are you holding it somewhere? Turn it slow and deep with your awareness and intention, making your exhalations longer and smooth to relax.
- Check in with yourself. Is there tension anywhere? Are you feeling rushed or pressured? Relax with your breathing. Inquire, “How do I feel about this (event, situation, conversation, etc.)?” while you observe how you’re reacting to it. Embrace your feelings without identifying with them.
- Check your attention. Is it focused on you or other people? Is there any judgment toward them or yourself? Mentally step back, detach, and shift the focus on the task at hand, dropping all judgments.
- Check your energy. Is it anxious, heavy, scattered, or steady and calm? Are you moving too fast, talking too much, eating compulsively, rushing or feeling pressured? Observe, breathe, and slow down.
- Anchor yourself in your breathing. Take a few deep breaths before and while you do anything: eating, talking, walking, exercising, working, reading or writing email, driving, and so on. Also, take breaks through the day to recharge.
- Create regular silent pauses. Stop what you’re doing and close your eyes for a few minutes to bring your attention, energy, and breathing to your center. Do this every 2-3 hours, no matter what you’re involved with.
- Avoid or reduce multi-tasking. Can you concentrate on a single thing at a time without being pulled in other directions? Hold your impulses without following them, either mentally or physically, and stay focused and still until you finish what you’re doing. If it’s a long project, break it down in reasonable segments, but don’t allow any distractions while you’re working on each.
At the end of the day:
- Sit quietly to reflect on your day. Are there any feelings you’d like to explore or process?
- Set the intention to let the day go. Once you’ve expressed the impressions and feelings of the day, consciously release it all to get ready to rest.
- Forgive yourself if you weren’t mindful enough, and for any pressure or judgments you burdened yourself with. You’ll have the opportunity to do better tomorrow. Remember it’s a process of training your mind to do something that goes against its nature: being still.
- Close your eyes and repeat your favorite mantra or prayer for a few minutes, surrendering the day to divine will, accepting it as it was, without letting it linger in your mind.
Without mindfulness and mental discipline, your ego-mind will continue distorting your perception and distracting you from what you’d like to accomplish. Being fully present allows you to experience life with more energy and enthusiasm as you bring into reality your projects and aspirations. More importantly, the present moment is your place of power and a doorway into your own eternity. So contact me today to uncover what’s preventing you from stepping into the higher reality of Consciousness!
© 2019 Yol Swan. All rights reserved.