Take Up Mindfulness to Improve Your Health
Do you know that the key to living a healthy life is not just exercising, but also practicing mindfulness? Mindfulness refers to the practice of being totally aware of the present moment. It focuses on living in the present moment. Studies show that it is effective in helping people handle stress and recover faster after setbacks, thus improving your health.
Mindfulness — the idea of making yourself aware of your conscious thoughts and feelings — has been used to treat a variety of psychological conditions. There’s no doubt that it has enormous potential, and you can take up the practice for your own health. The benefits are pretty impressive, and the science behind it seems sound. In fact, it’s easy to think you’ve got most of this mindfulness thing down — and then you take a step back and realize how much more you can be doing.
17 Ways to Practice Mindful Living
1. Watch Life Outside Your Window
Mindful living can help you tune in to what is happening around you. Consider observing the world right outside your window. If you choose, step outside and experience being in nature. Notice the animals, people, plants, and other phenomena all around you. Allow yourself to appreciate the abundance of life. Feel grateful for witnessing such an awesome moment in time. Without judgment, think about how lucky we are as a species to witness everything that is going on around us.
2. Practice Meditation
If you are interested in practicing mindfulness, try incorporating a regular meditation practice into your daily routine. You can choose to watch meditation videos based on your interest such as anxiety, focus, or mindfulness. You can also download an app to practice with a 30-day meditation course to learn how to stick with a regular meditation practice. Even if you don’t have time for formal meditation, you can listen to short meditations while you’re commuting or waiting in line so that you can be more aware of your behaviors and actions in your everyday life.
3. Experience Movement
In previous decades, many people worked in physical labor jobs and often worked with their hands. Sedentary work is becoming more commonplace these days, however. We just aren’t moving enough—and the less we move, the less we want to move. But bodies weren’t created for typing away at a computer all day or for hiding under a blanket marathoning a tv show or movie. Our bodies just aren’t getting enough use of movement. If you have a body that can move, take some time each day to experience different movements: follow along to a walking meditation, for example, or dance when you hear music playing.
4. Recognize How You Communicate
There are certain situations in which people are more inclined to be harsh or otherwise insensitive. Think of a time when you were very angry with someone. How did you respond? When we respond in an intense manner, it can make us less conscious of our behavior. However, in order to live mindfully, we need to become aware of how we react when we are frustrated or under pressure. Because these states happen often in life, it’s important to understand how we communicate our feelings during them.
5. Live a Life of Non-Attachment
Mindful living means being aware of life as it happens. In the spirit of honesty, we need to be aware that one day we will cease to exist. Those who have come before us have already passed, and those who come after us will pass too. Yet we live in a consumer culture, buying things as if our lives depend on it. But everything—our bodies, our families, and our houses—will pass away. Our phones, computers and cars might outlive us. But they will be used by someone else the next day.
6. Show Appreciation of Others Daily
Mindful living involves appreciating what is right in front of you. For example, when you talk to your friends, instead of comparing yourself to them, focus on the things that make each one special. Perhaps one of them has a talent for cooking, another for art, and another for music. Try your best to appreciate each person’s unique talents. This can help you become more appreciative of who you are and those around you.
7. Accept Things As They Are
Mindfulness is about knowing your place in the world. There are some things like your reactions and actions that you have control over, but there are also some things that you can't control. Sometimes change happens no matter if you want it to or not, but it can also be a good thing if dealt with properly. Allow change to happen without resistance, and react to it positively. When things are going well, spread as much joy and happiness as you possibly can. And when things aren't working out for you, don't resist change and learn how to cope with it.
8. Notice Content You Consume
After a long day at work, many people turn to their televisions to catch up on the news or see their favorite shows. Some people find that they are influenced by what they watch, leading them to act in certain ways. Perhaps they watch a lot of TV dramas and wind up fighting with their loved ones. For others, the news may make them constantly critical of other people’s behavior. One way to cultivate a more mindful lifestyle is to consume positive content before bedtime. For example, you might decide to read books about compassion or self-awareness instead of watching TV most nights. You should also consider giving yourself a social media detox from time to time.
9. Listen to Others
One way to incorporate mindful living into your life is to focus on the present moment. Listening is a key component of that effort, with most people often failing to listen when someone else is speaking by getting lost in their own thoughts or planning what they will say in response. Mindful living requires that you focus on the speaker—rather than coming up with the right words in response—and be aware of any subtle cues they may give while speaking.
10. Cook Your Meals
Taking the time to nourish your body helps conserve energy and heightens awareness. People often eat fast food for convenience, but quality meals have to be prepared at home. Although cooking can be time-consuming and expensive, it's worth the investment, because eating properly enhances the mind and body.
11. Eat Slowly
Practicing mindful eating can boost your creativity. While cooking is an important part of mindful living, so is eating your meal. How often have you swallowed a mouthful of food while watching a show on Netflix? Did you notice how the food tasted? Probably not. When it comes to mindful living, you'll want to taste your food thoroughly. What does that entail exactly? About 30 chews for a single bite. At first, your mouth will be swirling with various flavors. But as you inch closer to that 30th bite, your body will be begging you to swallow already. Notice that sensation. Notice how it feels. Become aware of the resistance to keep chewing. Does the food taste different than it does when you practice mindful eating?
12. Wake Up Early
The practice of waking up early is a mindfulness technique that can be used to enhance gratitude. Not everyone has the chance to wake up. By rising early, you can see the sunrise and appreciate the peace that comes with early morning. You can meditate, or reflect on your being, while enjoying a morning cup of tea or coffee. The practice of waking up early can help reduce stress by giving you time to center yourself and create a plan for your day.
13. Look Up When You Walk
When you hurry to your next destination, where do your eyes go? Do you look straight ahead at the sidewalk, watching your feet? This is a good practice to avoid tripping or stumbling. But you're missing out on potentially interesting things in the world around you if your eyes are focused on the ground. Mindful living requires a change in your gaze. It's okay to stop for a moment and look up to the sky. Notice any street signs? Maybe a bird flying by? Maybe there's a plane soaring above you? Watch life happening all around you simply by shifting the focus of your gaze.
14. Track Your Habits
Mindful living is all about being aware of how your actions might affect other people. And being honest enough with yourself to know when you need to take a bit of action to make some changes in your life to reach the 2.0 version of yourself. Aim to spend some time fine tuning aspects of yourself to make you a version of yourself that you enjoy being.
15. Be Kind
Performing an act of kindness every day can increase mindfulness. For example, if you make a habit of performing kind acts daily, you will begin to plan your actions in advance. Thus, you’ll be able to reflect on the positive impact you’re having on the world. This awareness can be kept track of by maintaining a private journal in which good deeds are recorded. A mindful lifestyle is one in which one is aware of his or her actions and planning ahead makes us more mindful of the way we interact with the world.
16. Pause and Reflect
The last of these mindful living tips is to pause and reflect on how you're spending your days. Take time throughout your day, for instance, to acknowledge the good things you do and apologize for the bad ones. And at the end of each day, take a few moments to assess how mindful you've been. Mindful living does not happen overnight. It will take months of practice before it becomes part of your daily routine, and even then, you'll still slip up occasionally. But if you continually strive to be mindful, as best you can, eventually it will become a natural and undeniably positive force in your life.
17. Digital Detox
Technology offers a lot of conveniences, but are you ever concerned about how much time you spend in front of your laptop? It's estimated that we reach for our phone on over 50 separate occasions per day. The nervous system produces dopamine in response to social approval (such as a “like” on an Instagram post), but the absence of this chemical, which is generated during social interactions, can lead to heightened stress levels. This is why you are likely reaching for your phone every few minutes after posting/sending a message; we have an underlying need to be connected and to be liked. A digital detox is a practice that aims to address our relationship with technology. When done in moderation, it can help us regain a sense of mindfulness when we use technology. Being mindful means being aware of our emotions, thoughts and actions. If we are happy, we know why; if we are sad, we know why and if we are angry we are able to understand why.
Now it is time to step into the world more mindfully. Using the tips in this article, you can now live a more present life while working toward greater self-awareness. Today is a great day to do acts of kindness, release pain, show appreciation to others, or meditate. You decide how you act each day and your reactions reflect your ability to choose. Now step away from your laptop or phone and go practice mindfulness. This magnificent world is a sight to see.