Mindfulness becomes a way of living. Just like selecting your clothes each day, mindfulness enables you to select your thoughts, beliefs and words. It enables you to create some space at times when you would have otherwise reacted and more than likely reacted in a way that you would not be happy about.
Mindfulness is about waking up and paying attention to what is happening in your environment and life and crafting it, rather than being crafted by it.
Mindfulness Is About Three Things
Mindfulness Is Being Attentive “On Purpose”
So much of life can just whiz by in the blink of an eye without you really even noticing. You miss so much of what is happening because most of the time you’re operating on auto-pilot.
How much do you really “think” when you’re driving the car? Once you learn the skills you need to drive, you can pretty much switch off and drive on auto-pilot, especially when you’re driving a familiar route.
Now, that changes a lot when you’re driving to a new place or maybe when it’s a dark and stormy night. In these times, you have to think about what you’re doing and do things on purpose.
Mindfulness is being attentive and doing things on purpose, even and especially those things you would normally do out of habit. It’s about being aware of what you’re doing, thinking and believing all the time.
Action Step: Stop, slow down and breathe.
Mindfulness Is Being Attentive To What Is “Happening Now”
When you run on auto-pilot most of the time, you’re neither aware or choosing what you do. Just like driving a familiar route to work or school every day, so much of the trip is from memory. Mindfulness is about being attentive to what is happening now, not yesterday or tomorrow.
How often do you get anxious going to the doctors? All those doctors appointments, going back to “the scene of the crime” can take you into the past in the blink of an eye. The oncology nurses have told me that people throw up just seeing them, even when they were out shopping. Your memories are so strong that they link you to the past so easily.
When you live mindfully, you give yourself constant reminders to be present to what is going on here and now, not in the past. I used mindfulness to calm myself when going to the constant stream of doctor appointments. Just breathing deeply calms your nervous system and focusing on the breath entering and leaving through the tip of your nose brings you into the present, quickly and effectively.
Action Step: Feel with all your senses. Feel more, think less.
Mindfulness Is Being Attentive “Without Judgment”
Judgment can become a way of life. So often, you either think things are good or bad. The question is why? Mainly, because this is how you are brought up, to discriminate against what you should and shouldn’t do. It’s a learning process which you adopt as a way of life.
In the end, judging is about the ego. Comparing to how things were or to other people is how your ego can control your life. Being attentive “without judgment” requires you to drop what your ego wants and to step back into the driver’s seat.
With mindfulness meditation, things just are what they are. Not good, not bad, just the way they are – bacause you are not comparing to the past or the future. You learn to understand that wherever you are and whatever you’re experiencing is exactly where you should be for right now.
Some experiences may be more pleasant than others, but you learn not to judge them as good or bad, positive or negative. This is a form of detachment to an outcome, that you might otherwise have expected.
You also let go of disappointment and the expectation of other people. Without expectation or “judgment”, there is no perceived disappointment.
Action step: Set up reminders of what is in your environment.
What is one action you can take today to live more mindfully than you did yesterday? One step at a time that is all it takes.
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