Mindfulness is a very ancient concept, but people started talking about it outside of yoga classes and qigong sessions only recently. Now there is hardly a person in the world who hasn’t at least heard the term. So what is mindfulness and why is everyone craving it so much?
Mindfulness is a state of presence in the here and now. It’s very important because our whole lives, our mental and physical energies are all located here in the present moment. So what happens when you get stuck in the past, in the events that are long gone and don’t actually exist right now? Part of your precious energy, the very life force that keeps you going, gets left behind somewhere and most of the time we don’t even realize what happened. Our mind keeps re-playing some event regularly, maybe once a week or even once a month, and we know that it’s gone, but somehow we still think about it.
And what happens when you think only about the future and the things that don’t yet exist? The same thing – your energy, your focus, and your mind aren’t present here, they are somewhere in the realm of fantasy. It might seem real and you might be sure that this or that will happen with 100% certainty, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is no more than an illusion. Both the past and the present are mere reflections on the surface of the water, but what you should be truly looking at is the source of that reflection – and it is always here, in the present moment, no matter where you are. So how does one raise his level of awareness?
Just stop and breathe
Breathing is one of the most natural things all of us can do. You don’t need to learn a special technique or master some degree in yoga – all you need is just a few minutes of your free time to fully focus on this very simple act of air coming in and out of your nose. Pretty simple, right? But as you sit like this for five, ten, or maybe even thirty minutes, you will notice that your mind becomes frantic, trying to run forward to the events that haven’t happened yet, anxious about the future, or going back to all those past events that are bothering you. The main trick is to stay in the moment, focusing on your breath, because your body and your whole life are here, in the present.
Go out into nature
The pace of the city doesn’t really allow us to stop and listen to what’s happening inside our minds. It’s very frantic and we rarely get to enjoy full relaxation even if make special time for it. That’s why it’s very important to go outside hiking or walking in a forest. Even a big park will grant you some peace and quiet and you’ll be able to fully shift your focus to what’s happening to you right now – inside your mind and body.
Focus on your body
You see, your body doesn’t know anything about the past or the future – it’s always in the present! It doesn’t think the way the mind does, it just exists, feeling the energy of life running through it every second of time. So, returning into your body is the most crucial thing to be fully present in the here and now. There are plenty of practices to do this – yoga, qigong, dancing. You can also just do breathing exercises, go running, hiking, or dance at home to the music that makes you really happy. You will learn lots of new things about your body this way!
Learn to play a musical instrument
Not only does music bring us back to the here and now fully, but it also allows us to connect with other people in a very beautiful and creative way. Sure, you can get lost in the music, but it will be a meditative state that will take you deep inside yourself, not to the future or the past. You can either learn to play some instrument you like or simply enjoy listening to it. The soothing vibrations of music will help you feel grounded in the present moment, and when your mind is calm – your life becomes filled with peace as well.
Do what makes you happy
Whether it’s a walk in the park, a trip around the city, baking a cake, or simply playing with your cat – try to do as many things that make you happy as possible. When we’re happy our mind doesn’t try to escape somewhere else – it feels perfectly well right here and now. And as we experience more happy moments, the habit of escaping into the past or the future slowly dwindles. It’s possible to build new healthier habits!