I look around and I see discontented, distracted and disturbed people all around. Even when I look into myself, I find instability and tensions; overwhelming thoughts of so much work that I need to accomplish during the day, the week, the year or may be my entire lifetime ahead. I hear people talk about only two things – regrets of the past and anticipations for the future. But isn’t there something that we are all losing in our constantly multi-tasking and “running after everything” attitude towards life? Yes, we are!
We are losing the “Present Moment”.
Mindfulness is the practice of conscious living in the present moment. It is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment without any judgements. It helps you to shift away your thoughts from the usual preoccupations towards an appreciation of the present moment and a larger perspective on life.
Practising mindfulness not only improves our mental health but also our physical health and hence, our overall wellbeing. Here are 6 ways to start cultivating mindfulness practice into our daily lives –
- Meditate – Take time to meditate. Meditation does not mean sitting under a tree like a monk waiting for enlightenment to strike you. Meditation is all about being quiet and focussing on your natural breathing. Yes, your thoughts may get distracted very easily. However, you must let go of all those thoughts without any judgement and bring yourself back to your focus. Breathe 🙂
- Observe – With all your love and gentleness, take time to observe all your bodily sensations, toe to head. Whether it is a slight itch or tingling, observe it and let it go without any judgement.
- Use your sensory organs – Notice what you see, hear, smell, touch or taste. Notice them without any judgements. I have personally experienced serenity using this technique. Each time my mind wanders, I focus on the sounds I can hear all around and try to distinguish them without any judgement (whether it is the chirping of birds, water trickling down or the sound of the air around).
- Accept your emotions – This is an important skill to be learnt – the art of accepting your emotions each moment and letting go of them without any judgement. Each time an emotion comes to you, notice it, name it (Joy, Sadness, Anger, Frustration, Nervousness or Regret), accept it and then let it go 🙂
- Cope with your urges – We all have our individual urges, cravings, obsessions and destructive behavioural patterns. Learn to recognise them, notice how your body feels as the craving enters it and then replace it with knowledge and wiser thoughts that will subside them.
- Be gentle and kind – Almost every moment we are judgemental about anything and everything in our lives. Not judging is a big part of mindfulness practice and a key source to happiness and contentment. Being kind, gentle and gracious with ourselves and with everything we experience or everyone around should be the essence of who we are.
Remember, practising these techniques may not seem relaxing in the beginning. But over time, it will not only lead you to a greater sense of physical and emotional wellbeing, but also to a calmer, wiser and a more stable YOU.
After all, we are all made of flesh,blood and bones and we are not going to be here for ever. So, let’s be kind and gentle towards ourselves, towards life and “Be Present” all the time 🙂
One of the several things that we desperately crave for in life is ‘how to de-stress ourselves’ or rather keep save ourselves from getting stressed. STRESS…Oh, the word itself sounds so stressful! 😦 The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances”. Sadly, this word has occupied a major portion of our lives today. We all feel stressed out to different proportions throughout the day. And the even sadder news is that we all have adapted to this tendency (or should I say habit) of ‘being stressed out’.
If we scan our lives carefully, we can easily find that most of these stressors of our life are self-made. We are seriously responsible for a major portion of the stresses that we suffer. Whether it is our inability to manage our time well or it is our perspective towards a particular situation, we are very much responsible for that bad and stressful mood we get into. We often allow situations in life to control us rather than us controlling them.
Life is a very precious gift and the very fact that we are living and breathing in this moment is the greatest of all joys. But why do we forget this so often until the loss of a loved one or a really tragic news hits us? Every single moment is precious. Why let stress get into our lives and divert our focus from living and make us feel miserable!
Let me share with you some thoughts that I want us all to remind ourselves, each time we get stressed and feel burnt-out; thoughts and actions that will help us every time we wish to reboot our lives and refresh our souls 🙂
- Focus on your breathing: There is nothing more relaxing than a few moments spent focusing just on our breath. Whenever you feel stressed out or tensed, pause your mind for a few seconds and simply focus on your breathing. This will help you in realising your own precious existence and the very fact that you are alive.
- Sleep well: Sleep has a very big impact on the way we behave towards different life situations. Our cognitive abilities are controlled by our sleep cycles to a large extent. Less or too less sleep impair our decision making abilities, feelings of self-content, self-worth and allows too many mood swings.
- Think systematically: Whenever you feel stressed out, sad or depressed, try to find out the root cause behind. Whether it is an unhealthy relationship, a dead end job, troubles in the family or a sudden health crisis; think about it systematically, figure out the best possible solution or the only solution it might have and start working upon it. Trust me, there’s no time in life to be wasted on emotional distress.
- Time management is life management: Learn to set your priorities and act accordingly. Effective time management requires constant self-examination. Both ‘a hurrying up all the time’ and ‘a lazing around’ attitude are unhealthy. What we need is a balanced attitude towards time and an ability to practice mindfulness, so that we are always focused on our present.
- Stay calm: A noisy mind can never help you figure out a solution. Practice how to stay calm. Always keep your head calm and mind focused.
- Change your perspective: When we learn to shift our perspective, we are able to see the silver lining in the darkest situations of life. Even when the worst tragedies hit life, it is only a change of perspective that will help us in overcoming the grief and moving ahead.
- Do the ‘positive self-talk’: Learning how to tame that voice in our head that always criticises us and gives us constant negative feedback about our actions and behaviours is a must. Each time negativity pops up it’s ugly head in our minds, we should wipe it out with positive self-talk. Whatever troubles you, do not forget to remind yourself of how amazing and unique you are and that you will definitely be able to make your way through the tough times.
- Take time to disconnect from technology and connect with your own self: Our hyper-connectivity with technology is a big stressor in our lives today. Constantly checking your Smart-phone, Email inbox, Facebook notifications, Twitter updates or Whatsapp conversations drains out (slowly but severely) a major portion of your mental energy and productivity. Keep fixed time slots for all these activities and make sure that everyday you get enough time to connect with your own self.
- Practice gratitude: Although I have written a complete article on this, I still can not help but mention the power of this practice again and again. Being grateful and practicing gratitude helps us develop a sunny positive attitude towards life.
- Listen to your inner voice: Intuition is always more powerful than intellect (if we learn how to listen to it carefully). Whenever your inner voice speaks, shut-up and listen. Never act against your conscience. It is your best mentor.
So, the next time you feel stressed out, try incorporating these thoughts and actions into your life. After all someone has rightly said; “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought after another.” 🙂