What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the act of BEING HERE NOW, or focusing your attention on what you are doing and your surroundings; your mind is not in the past nor is it in the future. It is right here, right now. The key to being mindful is to stay present.
Being in the moment is something that’s rare these days. We are pulled in so many directions by too much stimuli, too much responsibilities and too much hurrying. All this does is cause the mind to be always in the past (“shoulda, woulda, coulda”) or in the future (worry about what might happen). The result is stress and an unnecessarily complicated life.
It’s impossible and unrealistic to be aware of everything, all the time. The brain would crash!
You know what it’s like when you’re at a mall and there is different music coming from every store and there are bright lights and smells, people milling around, advertising designed to capture your attention — it’s sensory overload! If you need to concentrate on something (like exactly where you are in the mall, and the location of the store you need to find because it’s closing in 10 minutes) you find yourself wishing everything would just SHUT UP AND SHUT DOWN until you get your bearings.
So, getting your mind under control and being able to focus and shut out distractions will make you happier and calmer, and it will help you see things as they are, not as you believe them to be. That is the basis behind mindfulness training: to stay present in the moment.
The following mindfulness exercises and mindfulness training will result in a tremendous release of stress and worry, and will give you the ability to do your absolute best in any endeavor. Use these exercises when you’re flustered and pulled in a million directions at once; when you can’t get something OUT of your head; or when you just need to do a good job.
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10 Mindfulness Exercises To Help You Stay Present
1. Reverse the order you do things.
Allow yourself to enter a beginner’s mindset by reversing the order in which you towel yourself off, get dressed, and put on your socks and shoes in the morning. This will help your mind to stay out of it’s all-too-common auto settings and instead help it to stay present in the moment of the task.
2. Write with the opposite hand.
Use the mouse with the opposite hand or brush your hair with the opposite hand. You’ll laugh at how preschool-ish your handwriting suddenly becomes, and how you really have to focus on making your letters NOT look like potatoes!
3. Reorganize your books.
Stack them in a spiral, or organize them by color.
4. Pay attention to the full experience of walking.
Take a moment to focus on the sensations, the small and large movements you make while walking, how objects seem to move past you, the temperature, the wind, etc.
5. Pay attention to the full experience of breathing.
The sounds, sensations, smells, etc. (this is a great way to get into a deep meditative state).
6. Change up your routine.
Drive a different way to work, reverse the order in which you get ready in the morning, and eat something new for breakfast. Change up your routine anytime you can.
7. Play the A-Z game.
As you walk in an urban area (NOT while you are driving, please), try to spot all the letters of the alphabet, in order, as you walk. This works with numbers too; set an arbitrary number and count them in order (either backwards or forwards).
8. Periodically stop and smile.
Become aware of the immediate physiological response in your body. Feels great, doesn’t it?
9. Whenever you catch yourself doing something out of habit, STOP.
Start over and do it a different way. Even if it’s a destructive habit, go ahead and indulge but be VERY mindful of the process. You can choose how to make the action different — light your cigarette or pour your drink with the opposite hand. And, if it’s a destructive habit, become aware of the urge; become aware of the actions you are taking and the physiological response to the habit.
10. Take a deep breath.
While you hold it, notice and name 5 things you can see, feel, hear.
The point of all of these exercises is to get you out of your routine and habits and into the present moment.
Whenever something becomes habit, you stop being aware of it or mindful of it. In a sense this is good because otherwise your mind would become overwhelmed instantly if you were to try to stir your soup and have a conversation at the same time.
This amazing ability lets us focus on the more important things by relegating the habits to the subconscious.
However, we lose a lot of a great life experience when we stop being aware. We lose the beauty and magic in every moment because we are always rushing on to the next moment… and the next… and the next… or we are stuck in a past moment… or we alternate between past and future without giving any attention to right now.
You can use Omharmonics as powerful mindfulness meditation. Become very involved in the soundtrack and how your body is feeling while you meditate. Just these two points of focus are enough to keep your mind occupied, at least for a while. Anytime your mind wanders, bring it back to the experience of listening to Omharmonics. You’ll notice that your mind is going to wander a lot (and persistently) in the beginning. With training, you’ll be able to extend your present-awareness for longer and longer periods.
You can use the above exercises as mindfulness based stress reduction anytime. Some of these don’t require any extra time or effort — just present-focus.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction is the most effective way to handle stress. Better than exercise (which helps, but doesn’t last) and far, far better than any escapist activity you can think of.
There is no stress if you are not worrying about what might happen. There is no stress if you are not feeling resentment or guilt about the past. In the moment, there is only happiness and peace.