In our busy society, stress is more common than calm. 77% of people report physical symptoms of stress, and 73% of people report psychological symptoms of stress. Unfortunately, stress is the new normal. It’s a very overwhelming reality to face, but there is one sure tool that will help you cope no matter what your situation is: mindfulness.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is one of those very simple concepts that is often shrouded in mystique. It is one of the oldest mental techniques to help you achieve confidence and clarity. Its roots date back to Hinduism and Buddhism, and it has always been one of the major tenants of both religions. The understanding of mindfulness is second nature to people who have grown up deeply embedded in those cultures, but to the average American, it may take some learning.
You may have heard the word “mindfulness” from a yoga teacher or way back in a philosophy class you took years ago. Most people have a vague idea of what mindfulness is and don’t fully understand it. This lack of understanding leads people to think that it is a complicated concept, yet that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Here’s a quick and dirty explanation of mindfulness to show you how simple it really is.
Awareness: To be mindful is to be aware. When practicing mindfulness, all you do is take a moment to notice yourself and your surroundings. It is truly that simple. What are you doing right now? You are reading this article. Notice yourself. Notice what kind of mood you are in. Notice where you are sitting, what position your body is in, and what your surroundings are like. Pause for a moment, and welcome it all. In gaining this awareness, you have become far more present than you were a few minutes ago. You are living the Ram Dass mantra, “be here now.”
Acceptance: Now that you are aware and present, accept whatever you are feeling. Be completely honest with yourself. If you are going through some anxiety or anger, simply accept that. If you feel tense in your shoulders, note that. Many people think that mindfulness requires relaxation, yet all it really requires is that you get in touch with whatever you are feeling, whether it is wonderful or ugly.
Inner Peace: The idea behind mindfulness is that your inner peace and confidence relies on you being in touch with yourself. So, by accepting whatever you are feeling even if it is unpleasant, you become self-aware on a deeper level. That self-awareness will make you feel more whole, centered and confident, even if it doesn’t solve the problem of whatever is stressing you out. Your confidence will come from the knowledge that you are totally in touch with yourself and acting mindfully.
There are many techniques that you can use to practice mindfulness so that it will come more naturally to you.
Give the following ideas a try:
How Can You Use Mindfulness Throughout Your Day?
In a busy day, it is easy to become distracted. We generally multitask and have several things on our minds at once. Try to tune in and practice mindfulness in the following ways.
Pause. When you are feeling stressed, take a moment and pause. Maybe you are on the phone while writing an email while eating lunch at your desk. Pause, and simply notice yourself and all the things you are doing. Practice awareness and acceptance.
Take a mindfulness walk. Go for a walk down your street or through a park, and do nothing else. Just walk. Notice your surroundings, the way your feet feel, the way things smell, and anything else that is happening in your mind, body or environment.
Eat mindfully. When we are busy, we sometimes miss out on enjoying our food because we are in a rush to eat quickly. Enjoy a slow, lazy dinner. Truly taste your food.
When you are calm and self-aware, you naturally exude more confidence and feel ready to take on the world. More importantly, though, you are happier and find more enjoyment in life.