A frequently tossed around word for trying to maintain mental health in these hard times is “mindfulness.” However, the broadness of this term can overwhelm people who are trying to find calm in the challenges of everyday life.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is being fully present, and becoming more aware of who we are, what we are going through and what is troubling us. This means not being overly reactive or overwhelmed by the world around us.
If we are mindful, then we are free from our distractions and judgement. We are aware of our emotions, our worries, our fears, our anxieties and we acknowledge them– but we do not let them wash us away, or crush us.
Mindfulness is not turned off, or stopped and started. Instead, it is a way of living that can be practiced constantly.
Tips for practicing mindfulness
There are many ways, big and small, to become more in-tuned with the world around you, and in the long run, becoming more mindful.
- Appreciate each meal
When you eat, don’t rush. Plenty of hard work went into gathering and preparing the ingredients used to make whatever you’re eating. If you are distracted while you eat, or rush, or watching television while you eat, you’re not taking the time to reflect on all of the energy that went into obtaining the food that you need to survive.
- Take the time to appreciate what is going on around you
Melissa Breyer, a nature lover, once lamented that people are so busy in their daily lives that they never take the time to appreciate the little things. She discussed her appreciation for clouds.
“They come in endless textures and patterns, sometimes solo, sometimes covering the sky like lace. They form creatures and tell stories, while holding nuances of color that put a painter’s palette to shame,” she wrote. “And all of this is going on right above our heads; why aren’t we looking up all the time?”
While we probably should not spend all of our time staring at the sky, if we are mindful, we are able to observe and appreciate nature around us. Not just the clouds, but trees, plants, bugs, birds, squirrels, frogs, grass, rocks, our neighbors and all of those things that make the world around us beautiful. The beauty of our environments is continuous, whether we’re too stressed to pay attention or not.
- Try to meditate
Meditation is a great way to center yourself in silence and become more aware of yourself. Are you stressed? Are you in pain? Make yourself aware of it. Reveal it through meditation. Once the things that bother you have been revealed, you can work towards finding a solution as you become more and more aware of your environment.
I meditate every evening on my back porch, with hot tea, surrounded by my plants and scented candles. This time every day is pivotal for me to escape the things I cannot control, while becoming aware of the things that I can.
- Keep a journal
Writing down the things that are bothering you, as you become aware of them through mindfulness, is a great way to work towards resolving problems. Keep a journal because writing down what bothers you solidifies and verifies their presence for you to begin to tackle issues from there.
In a world full of distractions, technology and work, we constantly find ourselves lost at sea. By taking a few minutes every day to become more aware of who we are and our place in the world, the closer we will be to making peace with the things that trouble us.