It’s easy to say we should live in the present moment.
But is it possible to actually do it?
It’s become something of a cliché to say we just need to clear our minds, think clearly, and try to sort out of our interior lives with honesty and conviction. We know—easier said than done. The stresses of modern life, the fast-paced rhythm of daily activities and functional routines means we often don’t have the time to ourselves we need to find a spiritual or mentally whole center. We struggle with mindfulness. And if we find it, we struggle with holding on to it and maintaining it in our lives.
Our belief is that mindfulness, like any kind of hygiene, needs to be kept up to be most effective. And like other hygiene, it’s essential. It isn’t something we should brush aside or consider a privilege or a special occasion. Mindfulness can—and should—be part of our mental wellness toolkit that we practice whenever we need it, allowing ourselves space to find what will help and enrich us. There are many rewards to pursuing this fullness.
With that in mind, how can we find mindfulness? How can we make this essential rite of hygiene part of our healthful routines? How can we be more mindful, and how can we encourage it in others?
Mindfulness has many definitions, but the one of most use for us is to think of it as being able to accurately accept, reflect, and manage emotional concerns and mental health tasks. Many people use meditation to find and practice mindfulness, and others reflect spiritually in religious activities or counseling sessions. The ability to let your thoughts help guide your actions but not dictate them from fear or anxiety is a tough art, but it can—and should—be done. When we’re mindful, we allow our experiences to positively benefit us without dragging us down from our own anxieties. We let more of the world in, live in the present, and yes, we’re aware of the moments we have and how we can best use them to achieve happiness.
There’s no such thing as a single state of mindfulness, or a perfect state of being mindful around us. It’s a spectrum of efficacy that will vary from person to person. Its core challenge is finding the level of mindfulness that works for you and brings the results you’re looking for. Don’t let anyone else’s mindfulness or mental health journey make you feel diminished in your own process or progress—you’ll have to find the optimal path for yourself with introspection, reflection, dialogue, and honesty.
There are many ways to get started with mindfulness, but one of the best early methods is to start by researching mindfulness techniques, such as breathing, sitting, and focusing, along with our mental modes and strategies. Once you’ve begun this toolkit exploration, you can start to see what is working and what seems to be the best tact for you to take. This will help guide your journey and mindfulness process going forward, whether you continue to practice alone, seek a class, visit a therapy session, or attend a religious event centered around spiritual wellness and health.
Don’t Let the World Pass By
When we live quickly in our modern world, we miss things. Mindfulness helps us appreciate what comes our way when it does and gives us strategies and tools to escape negative or self-judgmental thoughts that weigh us down. Mindfulness can help us see the benefits of our work and improve the feeling of burnout, for instance, and to realistically judge where we’re doing well and what we’re trying to improve on. It can help us gauge our success relative to what we want and not what society or other people tell us we should think or feel.
We let so much of our worldly experiences pass by in a sea of negative emotions that drain us. When we open ourselves up to positive experiences and let each moment sink in, we find we slow time down and make its passage less onerous. Living in the moment should allow us to better appreciate those moments and what they actually mean to us an evolving, whole person.
How Mindfulness Can Positively Shape Our Lives
Mindfulness can make us more emotionally astute, which benefits our relationships with others. One of the biggest problems in couples or families is the lack of communication and the lack of honesty. Mindfulness helps us be more aware of what the people we care for have to say and how our actions influence them. It can help us see the benefits to improving interpersonal communication and forming stronger social bonds that keep us from growing isolated or depressed. It’s important for us to be happy; and it’s important for us to be happy with our relationships and for them to be happy with us.
Mindfulness also encourages us to rid ourselves of negative or self-defeating habits that perpetuate a cycle of depression and anxiety about our lives. When we’re free of the binding shackles that weight us down, we can think more clearly and better articulate what we want and what we’re feeling. There is never a downside to a more emotionally honest outlook that better shapes our lives and our decisions.
Taking the Mindfulness Plunge
The biggest strategy to harnessing the power of mindfulness is to first articulate what you want and what you’re looking for. Help set the stage of your life, both inner and outer. This will help guide the strategy that will work best for you. If you’re unsure, that’s okay too—many people find this out later after practicing mediation and calming their racing thoughts enough to discover their own desires and drive.
Many people are skeptical before starting a meditative or mindfulness journey. It seems like a placebo, or something that works for others but won’t work for you. One of the biggest tips is to simply take the plunge and dive in directly, using a class, a session, or an online program to help guide you as you find mediation and mindfulness to clear your mind. Many people find these classes beneficial to learn the habits of mindfulness and what to look for. You might not be immediately convinced, but with practice and experimentation you might find the perfect recipe that unlocks a journey you’ve been craving without even knowing it.
When we learn to practice mindfulness on our own, it’s more like exercise for our emotional center. The more we do it, the more we become accustomed to listening to our bodies and minds and finding ways to optimize our time spent on it as an activity. And like exercise, when we keep with it, the benefits are incalculable.