Mindfulness meditation can best be defined as a state of active, focused attention on what you are feeling or doing in the present.
It’s the most common form of meditation because it is easy to do and can be done at anytime, anywhere, and as often as you like.
When you become mindful, you switch from doer to observer and can watch yourself from a distance, as it were.
You can stop following your thoughts as they jump around in your head, but simply enjoy the experience in the here and now. Whether stopping to listen to birds singing on the trees or giving your complete attention to the mundane chores of washing the dishes that you usually ‘zone out’ when you are doing them, mindfulness helps make the world come more alive, moment by moment.
Mindfulness Makes a Difference
Even a few minutes of mindfulness can make a big difference. Those who practice mindfulness have been shown to be happier and more empathetic, while also being more secure within themselves.
They tend to have higher self-esteem and are more tolerant of their own ‘weaknesses’ and a better judge of their true strengths.
Focusing awareness on the here and now rather than past or future cuts down on the ‘automatic’ reactions many people engage in as so-called coping mechanisms, such as overeating, smoking tobacco, or indulging in other forms of impulsive or risky behavior.
It can help you to manage your emotions better, perhaps, get less argumentative, and able to form a wider circle of happy, supportive relationships.
Learning to Let Go
Living in the moment can be paradoxical, however, because you will be starting the practice under the assumption that you will gain those kinds of benefits from it in the future. So rather than just pushing for the future, learn to enjoy the moment and you will soon notice how much smoother your life is becoming.
It’s like learning to let go in order to keep what you want most. It’s learning to control your mind in order to gain freedom from the negative thoughts that have been holding you back.
If this sounds like just the opportunity you’ve been looking for to get out of a rut, try it now. Scan your immediate area to look at something beautiful. Don’t look around the room and think. “Oh darn, better get up to dust it.” Instead, look at the dust, the way it dances in the sunlight streaming from the window, the patterns it forms. Next, enjoy the sunlight. How does it look, feel on your face?
Mindfulness meditation helps you feel at one with the universe. If you feel at one, there is no separation between self and other, which means more harmonious relationships and a sense of connectedness, which will make you feel you are never alone even if you are by yourself in the middle of a wilderness.
Look at one of the pictures on the wall. Notice the details, skill that created it, the frame, and so on. Think of all the people who created it, the artist, person who make the frame, the glass, and so on. Think of all the people who contributed to building your house or apartment building, how skillful they were and how much you are enjoying the results of their skills.
Focusing on the present moment is like a mini-vacation from all the thinking and overthinking most of us tend to do.
Mindfulness draws our attention back in from all the distractions that surround us every day. It keeps us in the moment so we don’t dwell on the past, however terrible or great it was. There’s no need for nostalgia when you can enjoy a great present if you are simply more mindful of it and take the time to enjoy it.
Mindfulness also cuts back on worry because it builds confidence that you can cope with anything that comes your way. Problems that used to seem like obstacles are now just challenges to be overcome. You’re more in control of your mind, and therefore more likely to make smart decisions, not impulsive ones.
If you feel your emotions trying to take over, breathe and examine at them. Where are they coming from? Is it a reaction to the moment, or something triggering a feeling from the past?
Breathing will focus your attention on the present moment and long deep breaths will calm you so you can deal with the issue skillfully.
Finally, being mindful builds your confidence because your focus on what you are doing will give you a sense of skill and mastery. If you’re washing the dishes, try to wash each one with your full attention, and admire how you do it. Think how rewarding it is to have clean dishes, and how fun and effortless it can be. If you stop treating it like a chore, especially one to be fought over with your spouse, it can transform your entire outlook so you will live a greater life of ease moment by moment.
If you’ve been doing nothing but chasing promotion, looking after your family day after day with no time for yourself, or stressing over money worries all the time, try mindfulness meditation starting today, and see what a difference it can make to your overall feeling of well-being.
Living in the modern world is full of challenges and stress. Yet, life itself is all about choices. A calm, peaceful mind is a mind that has choices and is able to choose with wisdom, not emotions such as anger. You can act through careful consideration, not fury or panic.
Practice mindfulness several times a day every day, and see how enjoyable each moment can be. Cut the bad habits that don’t serve your higher self, and cultivate new ones that will help you live your best life as you discover the power of living in the now.