On June 20, 2014, in mindfulness, by rita

What is mindfulness ?

According to wikipedia, mindfulness is a meditative practice that has Buddhist origins, and has gained worldwide popularity as a distinctive method to handle emotions. It is a state of equanimity, where one is not disturbed or excited by external circumstances. When you are in this state, you are at peace with yourself, and living your life to the fullest.

Mindfulness is essentially about being present in the moment.

How can one be “present” at all times?

It comes with consistent practice. We must first accept ourselves the way we are now. We are often self critical about ourselves, and that prevents us from trying new things to improve ourselves.  It is very important to be aware of where you are. It is similar to visiting a mall, and checking the map for your favorite clothing apparel store. The first thing is you look for is the “You are here” Sign.

Right now, you are at the “You are here” sign in your life. You may be going through a crisis, celebrating a milestone, working through deadlines, or taking care of a loved one. What are the feelings you are experiencing right now? Are they feelings of joy, contentment, elation, apprehension, fear, anxiety, or sorrow?  They will pass, since everything external to you is ephemeral. Happiness is within you. In order for us not to allow external factors to sway and influence us, we need to be grounded.

To begin this journey, start by taking a small but important step. Try to avoid multi-tasking and do just one thing at a time. For example, when you are having dinner, try eating at the table. Avoid browsing your phone, newspaper or watching TV. Be mindful of what you are eating. Relish the dish and savor the taste.  In fact, you will begin to eat slowly savoring every bite. Studies have shown that when people tend to eat more when they are doing something else while eating.

Multi-tasking is unfortunately ingrained in our culture these days. So you have to consciously work on being engaged with a single task at a time. This is can be quite a lifestyle change for many. For instance, it is practically instinctive to listen to the radio while driving. Instead, concentrate on the road and be aware of your surroundings. In my own life, I try to avoid taking work calls while I am driving. If the call is really urgent, I tell the caller that I will be available shortly. When I drive into a parking lot, I return the call and give my undivided attention to the caller.

Changing long learned behaviors is hard work. So as you try to break the multi-tasking habit, you might find yourself regressing. Recognize that this is okay.  Progress never follows a smooth line. Just try to keep at it. I find that keeping a journal of your progress can be helpful. You may not see a difference in your lifestyle in days, but in a period of weeks and certainly after a few months you will realize that you are indeed changing.

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