For many individuals, in an already overtaxed schedule, practicing mindfulness daily may not appear as a feasible possibility. Although people crave the time to unwind and feel rejuvenated, they just do not know how to when time itself has become such a scarcity.
Our modern-day lifestyles are certainly chaotic: it often feels as though 24 hours in one day is simply not enough, especially in the face of all that we feel we must accomplish. However, mindfulness is not something to be done — it’s simply a state of being. Granted, our minds are a ‘mental muscle’. Like any muscle, it requires conditioning through ‘strength’ training and training indeed requires time. This training, however, need not be more than a few moments a day to begin with and is not something that you should feel obligated to add to an already overwhelming and seemingly endless to-do list.
Allowing ourselves a ‘mindful moment’ provides us with the opportunity to interrupt the habitual autopilot mode that propels us through our day and often leaves our minds in a scattered state. These mindful moments not only provide a sense of restorative balance in the moment of being mindful itself, but can have enduring effects of wellness throughout the day. Mindful moments can take place anywhere, at any time. For instance:
- In an elevator: Instead of reaching for your mobile phone, take a moment to bring awareness to your natural breathing rhythm, exploring its depth and length.
- At the grocery store: Bring awareness to your senses and observe, for example, what you can see, hear, and smell.
- Before of after driving your car: Become aware of the movements involved in your body that take place as you get into and out of your car seat.
- On your way to a meeting: The next time you move across the room, become aware of all that your body does to take one step forward.
- Taking your lunch break: The next time you eat, bring your awareness to the act of chewing and swallowing your food.
- At your desk: The next time that you are sitting at your desk, bring your attention to the sensations that you may feel in your neck, back, and legs.
- Brushing your teeth: Bring awareness to the swirling action of the toothbrush created by your entire arm and shoulder.
- Doing household chores: While washing the dishes, doing the laundry, or sweeping the floor, bring your attention to the movements in your body required to complete the action that you are doing.
- Before bed: As you lay down to sleep, simply become aware of how your body feels as it makes contact with the bed.
The opportunities for mindful moments are exciting and endless. With every mindful moment that you engage in, you welcome revitalized stability and energy to your mind, and in turn, your life. During these moments, there will be times where your mind urges you to resume autopilot mode. As you bring awareness to the habits of your mind, every time you gently guide your mind from these cyclical patterns and into the present moment, you exercise conscious choice.
The only guaranteed moment that we have in life is the present moment. Many of us live in the memories of a yesterday or in the anxious thoughts of a tomorrow, and thus, tightly squeeze the present moment — often leaving us feeling immensely constrained and overwhelmed. Many of us continue to hold off on experiencing life, saying that we will enjoy life on the weekend, after an assignment or task is complete, or maybe during the next vacation. So many of us, myself included, have lost days, weeks, months or more trapped in the raging cycle of thinking, hoping, wondering, planning, doing, and reliving (whoa — that’s a lot!), rather than just being. With every moment, our lives are passing us by. So, let us take a moment to pause the mental state of ‘doing’ and simply be in the state of being. Although it is the nature of the mind to wander, it’s always within our ability to gently bring our awareness back to a state of mindful living. Just remember, you’re always one conscious breath away from crossing that bridge of transition.
The next time you are doing something, check in with yourself and see if you are mentally present and aware of what you are doing. If not, without any judgment or rationalization, acknowledge that your mind has wandered and take a deep breath and treat yourself to a mindful moment — after all, it’s the only moment that we truly are guaranteed to have. So, let us live it to the fullest.
Originally published at www.mindfulessence.com on November 3, 2016.
Originally published at medium.com