Being a mindful person is probably the best way to find life balance. When you are mindful you live in the present moment and you can enjoy your life right now, not some time in the future and not some time in the past.
Right now I am sitting in front of a glass door that opens to a terrific view of the ocean, waves breaking on the beach, blue sky and white fluffy clouds that form the most amazing shapes in the sky. My girls are playing with my husband on the balcony and I can see their little faces with huge smiles and sparkling eyes. I am mindful and I feel completely in balance at this moment. There is nothing else that I could wish for in life.
Mindfulness is the first step to finding balance and happiness in life. I know that a lot of times we are too busy to stop and think, to be mindful of the present moment and what it means to us. From our earliest years we hear that we need to think about the future all the time. We need to plan for the future every minute of our life. We are not taught to live in the present and to enjoy the very moment that we are in right now (actually living in the present and not thinking about the future is reproached in any possible way.)
When we are not thinking about the future we are usually thinking about the past. It would have been nice if we were thinking only about pleasant moments of the past, our emotions and memories of the happiest days of our life. However, most of the time we think about something that we should have done but we forgot to. We think about some situation when we didn’t feel at our best and how we could have changed it if we had said or done something differently. We think about people and opportunities we’ve lost. We remember stressful situations that bring only negative emotions and thoughts. And again the present moment is lost in the stream of our past.
You can’t be in balance when you miss so many moments of your life. Life balance is about being in peace and harmony with your inner world and with the world around you. You need time to be able to enjoy this peace of mind and to be present in the present.
I believe that it is great time to start your search for life balance through becoming a mindful person right now. Mindfulness is associated mostly with meditation but there are other ways how you can embrace mindfulness while performing your every day tasks. I started trying meditation only a couple of weeks ago and I must confess that I do not spend more than 10 minutes a couple of times a week doing it. However, I improve my mindfulness day after day without any effort. Here is how I do it (and you can too):
- Just stop. The best thing that you can do to learn mindfulness is to stop and enjoy the moment. Look at children and how they view the world. When they play or walk they just stop when they see something exciting (like a caterpillar or a simple rock) and take their time enjoying their little treasure. You can do the same every once in a while. It will be easier to start this practice somewhere in nature where you can observe the magnificence of the world and be grateful for living in this world.
- Spend a lot of time in nature. Nature has different faces and I have already written about the importance of nature for life balance. Nature can calm your thoughts down and let you experience mindful awareness.
- Mindful eating. Food is a source of energy for our body and spirit and if we want to learn mindfulness then we must start with mindful eating. Shoveling down tons of food without even thinking about what we are eating and how much we are eating is very common in our present society. The next time that you eat think about every bite and enjoy it. Taste the flavor of your food, smell it, feel it and be aware of how your body reacts to this food. How much does your body really need? Mindful eating will help you take care not only of your spirit but also of your body.
- Breathe. You do not have to meditate in order to learn mindful breathing. Stop for a second and just pay attention to your breathing. Feel your lungs filling with air as you inhale and then feel how they contact as you exhale. Try breathing through your mouth and through your nose, try chest and abdominal breathing, make a few deep breaths and a few shallow breaths. There are so many ways how you can breathe and there are so many reasons why you should be thankful for this simple ability to breathe. A lot of times we forget how much we already have just by having this ability to breathe.
- Pay attention to the most boring and ordinary tasks. We get caught up in our routines so much that we use autopilot when performing most everyday tasks like brushing teeth, taking vitamins or other pills in the morning, standing in line or taking a shower. I do not know about you but I had quite a few times in my life when I forgot whether I brushed my teeth in the morning or not, I forgot whether I took my pills or not and sometimes I even forget when I ask my husband a question (he laughs at me when I ask him the same question every 30 minutes ). The consequences of these mindless actions can be anything from bad breath to a serious car accident that is why mindfulness is an essential quality that we must develop in us. Learn to pay attention to each of the tasks that you are performing throughout the day. Register your feelings, your emotions and your experience.
- Break your routines. It is difficult to be mindful when day after day you do the same thing. Break your everyday routines and you will notice that mindfulness will come effortless. Take a different route to work, exercise at a different time or change your morning routines (skip your everyday email check or newspaper, switch coffee for green tea).
- Try walking gratitude medication. Just the other day I read a wonderful post by Miche from Serenity Hacker Regaining Inner Peace when You Are Busy: Walking Gratitude Medication. She explains in detail how you can practice mindfulness and gratitude while doing such easy tasks like walking, cycling or even scrubbing the floor (any monotonous activity that does not require mental exertion). While walking put your focus on your body’s movements and motion. Do not think about anything else but your breathing and your muscles. Every time that you notice your mind drifting away stop these wanderings and think about something you are thankful for. After you get into the mindful state take a few deep breaths and continue concentrating only on your body again. You can practice this meditation any time and anywhere.
- Try Mindful Meditation. Here is a good video of breath meditation to start with – Breath Meditation and Yoga (this is the meditation that I am working on right now.) Meditation is a great way to clear your mind and if you can find 10-15 minutes every day for it then your practice of mindfulness will enhance greatly.
- Exercise mindfully. Before I have even tried meditation I have been doing Pilates and Yoga for a few years. Just a couple of years ago I’ve added running to my workouts. All of these types of exercise are a great way to practice mindfulness. You need to concentrate on your breath and on your body. You also need to be present in the moment if you want to perform all movements correctly. You can use other types of exercise to practice mindfulness just make sure that you are aware of your body when you are working out.
- Be mindful of what you say. Sometimes we lose the ability to be mindful when speaking and our words lose their real meaning. Your words are an expression of your thoughts and your inner world that is why make sure that they are as clean, precise and balanced as your inner world is. Think before you say anything because nothing can hurt more than mindless words.
It is easy to learn to be mindful. All it takes is just a little bit of effort and desire but the benefits are tremendous.
Do you have your ways to practice mindfulness or experiences that you would like to share? I am looking forward to your feedback in the comments below.
Keep it balanced!