I have read a lot about mindfulness. I understood the concept and how important it is for a happy life, but my mind didn’t really grasp what it really meant until one day a few weeks ago.
My husband and I were on a walk after dinner. We have a nice nature trail near our home with a creek and small waterfall. It is a really quiet and peaceful place. Justin and I spend our time there planning future trips, talking about our day, or discussing ideas for the blog. While walking we saw a family approach, a mother, father, and two kids between the ages of seven and ten. The father and kids were in the moment, but the mom was walking with her cellphone literally in front her face. I was stunned. It really bothered me. I wanted to say “ hey lady put your phone down! Don’t you realize you will never get this time or day back with your family, because once it’s gone it is gone forever?!?!
Then I realized that I do the same thing in my life. I will get on my phone and before I know it 30 minutes has flown by and I have literally done nothing of value. I asked Justin if he had seen that lady ignoring her family because she would rather be on her phone and he said he had. I told him that I didn’t want to be like that. That is when I actually grasped what mindfulness meant. Be mindful of the moment and knowing that it may never happen again, so enjoy it while you can.
Justin and I started discussing mindfulness and times when we were not in the moment and took things for granted. For instance, we loved to eat at a German restaurant an hour away. We would always order the German Burrito for a starter. What is a German burrito you ask? It is a potato pancake rolled up like a burrito and stuffed inside is ham,cheese, and caramelized onions. On the side is sour cream and applesauce to dip it in. The restaurant is now closed and we will never get to eat a German burrito again. Justin and I can’t remember eating our last burrito because it didn’t enter our mind that the last time we ate it that it would be our LAST time. I regretted not being in the moment and paying full attention to what I was eating that day. Then I thought what else have I missed because I wasn’t in the moment?
I decided right then and there that I was going to start living life in the moment. It didn’t matter how small or unimportant it seems at the time, I would be present for everything. I have decided to cut back on the amount of time I spend on my personal social media accounts. In fact I have deleted the facebook app off of my phone. I didn’t realize how much time I wasted on my phone and how disengaged I had become.
I have also started looking at other ways I can become mindful because it does have a lot of benefits. Some benefits of mindfulness are:
- Better quality of sleep
- Helps sustain weight
- Reduces stress levels
- Helps shake off negative feelings
- Boosts attention span
- Helps diminish anxiety
There are several ways to practice mindfulness. The most commonly talked about is meditation, but there are other less talked about ways as well.
- Mindful Eating: when you eat do not do anything else like check emails or watch TV.
- When you take a walk notice your surroundings such as the sites and sounds around you: The changing color of the leaves, the shape of the clouds, the sound of the nearby creek.
- Pay attention to your breathing: it can take your thoughts from your mind and make you more aware of your body which can free you from your worries and problems.
- Focus on your senses: How your day’s first cup of coffee smells, the feel of the sun as it warms your face as you sit outside, Hearing the birds chirping as you walk to check the mail, the taste of the summer’s first strawberry, seeing the first snowfall of winter.
- Truly listen: when someone is talking to you truly listen to what they are saying. People aren’t fully listening because they are thinking about how they will respond, judging what the speaker is saying , or are just in their own thoughts.
- Engross yourself in the things you love to do: If you love to cook, read, or hike focus your attention on to that activity instead of thinking of your to do list or other mind distracting projects.
Being mindful is different for everyone, what works for me may not work for you. I hope you find your path to mindfulness using my tips or thinking of other ways for yourself. I would love to hear your ideas on what mindfulness means to you.