The Art of Being Present - An Introduction to Mindfulness

The Art of Being Present - An Introduction to Mindfulness

 

Think about how many tasks you do every single day. It’s a lot, isn’t it? Now think about how many of those tasks you are fully immersed in. I am sure that number will be quite small.

 

You see, when you are doing something, especially a mundane task, your mind tends to wander. In fact, this happens even if you are sitting idly. Your mind might randomly start thinking about your next meal, a mistake you made in the past, a compliment a stranger gave you, future uncertainties, and so on.

 

To give you an example, you might be brushing your teeth in the morning and your mind might be firing on all cylinders raging about how your boss was rude to you the previous day!

 

We all experience this, don’t we? If you pay a little attention, you will realize that our minds tend to stay in the past or the future for the majority of the day. No wonder so many people are totally exhausted by the end of the day. We just have too many pointless trains of thought that use up a significant amount of our energy!

 

This is where mindfulness comes in.

 

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is an ancient spiritual practice that involves anchoring your attention to the present moment and being completely immersed in what you’re doing.

 

Typically, we are most mindful when we are doing something we really enjoy and love. For instance, if you love playing a musical instrument, you will find that your attention is completely fixed on the act of playing and your mind doesn’t wander off. In fact, you won’t even notice the passage of time. It is this state that is called mindfulness.

 

Now, replicating this state for every single action and task you do during the day might seem impossible. After all, how can you possibly be engrossed in something as boring as doing the laundry or waiting in queues? But when you make mindfulness a way of life, you are able to stay in that state without even trying. Sure, it needs a lot of practice and effort, but you can get there.

 

Before I get into how you can make mindfulness an integral part of life, let’s first talk about why it is so important.

 

Why Is Mindfulness Important?

Those who practice mindfulness regularly know by experience how transformative it can be. This seemingly simple practice can change who you are as a person and how you look at life itself. Plus, it has tons of benefits for your physical, mental, and emotional well being. So, let’s quickly go over some of the benefits of mindfulness.

 

1) It Improves Your Sleep

In a world where a significant portion of the population is sleep-deprived, mindfulness can make a huge difference. By calming down your hyperactive mind and helping you relax in the present moment, it can ensure that you fall asleep faster and achieve deeper states of sleep.

 

2) It Reduces Your Stress and Anxiety

This one is a no-brainer. Most of the time, it is our thoughts about the future or the past that lead us to stress and anxiety. Mindfulness counters this by fixing our attention on the present moment. This wards off your fears and insecurities and helps you enjoy the task at hand.

 

3) It Improves Your Productivity

When you are completely absorbed in a task, it is only natural that you will be able to do it efficiently and effectively. So, when you are mindful of your tasks at work, for example, you are able to do a lot more, in a lot less time.

 

4) It Can Improve Your Immune System

This might surprise you but mindfulness can indeed improve your ability to fight off diseases and disorders. A study conducted in 2016 showed this to be true.

 

5) It Can Improve Your Brain Function

Another study conducted in 2015 showed that regular practice of mindfulness can increase the thickness of the brain cortex. This is the region of the brain that is responsible for sensory processing and general cognitive functions.

 

How to Integrate Mindfulness into Your Life

 

The above benefits of mindfulness are only the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other ways it can make your life joyful and blissful. The truth is, you only realize the value of this practice when you actually start practicing it.

 

So… how do you instill mindfulness in your life? Let’s take a look.

 

1) Be Mindful of the Smallest Tasks

A great way to become familiar with mindfulness is to practice it with small tasks. Whether you are eating, brushing your teeth, walking, riding a bike, swimming, sitting, or doing laundry, make sure you are as mindful as you possibly can. Let’s take mindful eating as an example. 

When you’re eating, look at your food and observe as many details as possible. What is the color of the food? What does the texture look like? Can you see any steam coming off of it?

 

Then, take a spoon and put some food in your mouth. Be mindful of how your hand moves. As you start chewing, feel and taste the food. Does it taste good, is it sour, sweet, savory, moist, dry? What does the texture feel like, is it smooth, creamy, grainy, stringy? What type of noise does your mouth make? How does your tongue move around?

 

Finally, as you swallow, notice the movement of the food from your mouth to your stomach.

 

2) Spend Time in Nature

In my opinion, this is one of the most enjoyable ways of practicing mindfulness. If you can’t readily go to a beach, a forest, or a mountain, you could go to your local park and sit beneath a tree, or even your back yard.

 

Then, all you have to do is observe as many things happening around you as possible. The chirping of the birds, the blowing of the wind, people walking in the distance, the color of the leaves, the swaying of the branches, dogs running around, squirrels trying to find nuts, and so on.

 

3) Spend Some Alone Time

It is quite important to be mindful of the way you think and feel. And this is best done when you are alone. Every day, make sure to spend some time with yourself and act as an observer. Just observe the types of thoughts that come to your mind and how they make you feel. Do this in a completely non-judgmental manner.

 

4) Do One Thing at a Time

Multi-tasking may seem attractive, but it can destroy your attention. In fact, many researchers advise against it. So, it’s better to do one task at a time so that you can be more mindful of what you’re doing and be completely immersed in it.

 

These are some great ways to start making mindfulness a natural part of your life. Initially, it might feel a little weird to focus so intensely on your tasks at hand, but eventually, this will become second nature. And ultimately, you will have learned the art of being present.

 

I have incorporated crystals in my life to help with my focus and attention.  Like most, my mind can run wild.  When this happens, I have to remind myself to go back to the basics, my basics. The routines and rituals that I have tried along my journey that help me. These routines remind, and also help me, to stay in the present moment.  One ritual I practice when I really need to focus and shut out all the noise, is a Focus Crystal Grid. Learn more more about Crystal Grids and Self-Care Routines and Rituals in future articles from DFW Crystals, sign up for our newsletters to stay connected.


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