We hear a lot about mindfulness, the practice of continuously living in the moment. That sounds like a terrific tip, but how do you do it? With meditations? Breath or sound triggers? Retreats in the desert?
If you’re like me, you probably already practice mind-full-ness of a different kind, the kind where your mind is full of to-do lists, ponderings, and more—so full that it’s hard to shut off sometimes, interfering with sleep or making it hard to concentrate. While this type of mind-full-ness is common, it’s the kind that has your mind everywhere BUT the present, so focused on things in the past or the future that it’s hard to pay attention to, let alone focus on, the present. Thankfully, the practice of mindfulness can be an antidote for mind-full-ness, helping us focus on and be very aware of the present.
So how do you practice mindfulness? Here’s two tips to try today:
1. Soak in the moment. Wherever you are right now, be there. Become an observer and notice the sights, sounds, textures, and smells. What about being there right now amuses you? Makes you happy? Calms you? Taking a mental inventory will help your mind focus on the here and now and take in your surroundings in an encompassing way, helping you be present.
2. Recognize thoughts, but realize they are just thoughts. While you’re busy trying tip #1, it’s inevitable that different thoughts will creep in, beginning to take you away from soaking up the moment. If you find that happening, moving you away from the present, recognize the thoughts running through your head. Tell yourself that they are just thoughts, and bring your focus back to your surroundings, easing your mind and staying in the present.
So there’s two tips to try to practice mindfulness in order to get rid of mind-full-ness. I hope you’ll find that, when you take time to practice mindfulness, it helps cut down on extraneous thoughts, allowing you to concentrate better when making important decisions and enjoying the moment more.