More on Mindful Conscious Living

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

My last blog post (How to Go From Chaotic to Mindful Living) was about some simple practices to bring you back to present awareness and help you be more mindful in each moment. This post will take it a bit further and share how to make mindfulness more of your normal way of living.  There are two primary practices that helped mindfulness become more of the norm for me.

The first is meditation. I can hear some of you groaning… ugh, meditation. Yes, I know. For many years I was also one of those groaners. I tried to mediate and found it to be very difficult.  The more I tried to quiet my mind, the noisier it got.  If anything meditation made me realize that my mind truly has a mind of its own.  And then I read that the purpose of meditation isn’t necessarily to quiet our mind as much as it is to be aware of what’s going on in our mind without judging or attaching to it.  Our minds are designed to think; yet, we get to choose whether to attach to those thoughts that arise. Meditation is the opportunity to observe them instead of latching onto them and letting them take you a ride. It’s also an opportunity to be aware of what you’re feeling in your body or what emotions arise, again, without judging anything.  The more I reminded myself of this, the easier meditating got.  I also use some of these techniques, which has made my meditation practice easier and also a something I began to sustain as a daily practice.  See if any or all of these resonate with you:

  1. Focus on Your Breath – you cannot pay attention to your breath and think thoughts at the same time.
  2. Use a mantra – use something meaningful to you. “I am here now” is one that many new meditators start with as it helps keep them focused on the present moment.  Say “I am” on your inhale and “here now” on your exhale.
  3. Listen to soft music.
  4. Become the observer of your thoughts – as thoughts arise in your mind, imagine they are like leaves floating down a stream; see the thoughts on the leaves as they drift by.
  5. Finally, be easy on yourself. Meditation is a judgment free zone and an awareness zone. As with anything else in your life, the more you practice the easier it gets.

How does meditation assist you in being more mindful when you’re not sitting in your meditation chair?  You start to recognize when your mind is wandering and when you’ve snapped out of your present experience.  Your meditation practice guides you to more and more awareness of your mind and thoughts so you become conscious when you’re out of the moment. In addition, as meditation becomes more of a regular practice,  you’ll notice you’re less easily pulled out of the present moment by your thoughts. You begin to control your mind rather than your mind controlling you.

Give yourself at least one month of regular, daily meditation before tossing it out as something you ‘can’t’ do.  If you do it for 30 days straight, even just 10 minutes a day, I guarantee it’ll be something you seek out and look forward to; try it!

The second practice that helps mindfulness become more of your norm is spending time in nature.  Find a park or somewhere you can go on a regular basis to simply BE in nature and away from the noise of daily life.  Find a stream to sit by or a tree to lie under. Look at the sky and the clouds.  Observe the peaceful non-struggle of the natural world.  The more time you spend in the peacefulness of nature, listening to the sounds of all the critters, the breeze through the trees, or witnessing wildlife (birds, deer, not bears…) the more you attune yourself to the peace of being present.  Nature has been a huge ‘mind-chatter’ healer and mind-quieter for me.  The peace of being out in nature is actually similar to the peace of your own breath.  You can always access that inner-calm, even in the midst of chaos.  Nature is a reminder of that – a chance for you to heal your own mind-chatter and quiet it through the simple act of observing Mother Earth all around you. Get out there as much as you can  — even if it’s only once a month, it’ll help. In fact, one of my clients started this practice with a once-a-month hiking day and ended up turning it into a once-a-week practice. That’s how beneficial it was for her and, I know it can be for you.

I’d love to hear your own practices and stories of how you integrate mindfulness into your daily life.  I’m always learning and looking for new things to try as well so please feel free to share in the comments or on our Facebook page!

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