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4 Keys to Practicing Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Prabhleen Gupta

Prabhleen Gupta

Founder-Personal Mastery

Keys to practice mindfulness
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Mindfulness is the practice of being present in life as it is happening around and within you. Here are the keys to practicing Mindfulness in everyday life.

With Mindfulness practice, we can remain present in the day-to-day or routine tasks where we often lose track of the present. With Mindfulness, you will know when you get on autopilot and lose yourself in thoughts, unaware of what is happening around you. In this way, you would be able to live here fully and present. Through this change, you will become a creator or central character of your experiences.

Are you really where you are?

When you get up in the morning, are you getting up, or are you already mentally in the shower, having breakfast, or even at work? When you eat breakfast, do you pay attention to the food you are eating, or are you watching the news on TV or the newspaper or going around everything you have to do in the day or any other concern? While you drive, are you attentive to traffic and the act of driving the car, or are you fiddling with the radio or mobile? When you talk to someone, do you pay attention to what they are saying, or are you eager to share your opinion?

I could go on listing many other life situations where we become mindless or lost. Therefore, there are many opportunities throughout the day to be present and aware. But often, more or less consciously, we are turning to worries and chores that have nothing to do with what we are dealing with at the moment.

Sometimes we are present without effort

However, it turns out that it is not always difficult for us to be present. Concentrating on preparing a report or presentation without being distracted and feeling productive, being immersed in reading a book, being enthralled with what someone tells us, or with a talk at a conference are a few such examples.

Do we know how to apply Mindfulness when we like something? Then it may be a matter of giving more importance to everyday things that we do almost automatically; to put more enthusiasm into what we see as a procedure or an obligation, and eliminating resistance to the things that we dislike but have to do.

Mindfulness is accepting and letting go

Mindfulness consists of becoming aware of the present moment and accepting what is happening, what we are thinking, feeling, and experiencing. It does not mean not acting if we can improve our situation, but to act from presence and acceptance rather than from resistance, fear, or the past’s burden. It also means not to be carried away by thoughts and ideas that are of no use in the present moment.

Eckhart Tolle proposes in his book “The Power of Now” that our ego creates this resistance. According to him, our ego is defined by our past and by our fears. Worries, tension, stress, restlessness, and anxiety are caused by our minds ruminating on a possible future. Feelings of sadness, resentment, grief, bitterness, and guilt reflect not having forgiven and accepted our past. Therefore, the ego feeds on what Eckhart Tolle calls “psychological time” created by memories of the past and future projections. The ego is defined by memories, by what we were, by what we did, by what we want to be, or by fear that it may happen to us in the future.

However, we only exist here and now. We live in the present moment, and it is now that we can act. If our mind is distracted by thoughts about what was or what could be, we lose the opportunity to realize that we are alive and complete right now. It is not easy to accept this point because our mind will say “yes, but…” However, just this “yes, but” is there because our ego makes value judgments of our life situation. It pushes us to demand that we should be different, that we should aspire to be something else, and resist what is.

Act from presence and acceptance

It is not about resigning ourselves to a life situation that we consider better, but about accepting that we can only live our life right now, neither in the future nor in the past. We can only improve our situation if we do it from acceptance instead of fear. If we act from the insecurities of our ego, we will repeat the same patterns created in the past, whether they have worked for us or not.

But if we act from the presence, we will be more aware of how we find ourselves right now and the opportunities and alternatives for action that we have. Make plans to improve your living situation. Then go back to the present and think about what you can do right now about it; not tomorrow or in the next hour. Perhaps nothing more than accepting you are alive and, whatever your life situation is, it is as it is. Be grateful for everything you are and have; maybe accept that you feel sad about something that has happened but that it is part of the cycle of life. Remember that it is the ego that labels things as good or bad. The resistance to accept “what is” is what causes us pain or concern.

How to practice Mindfulness in everyday life

To become more aware of things that you take for granted or do almost automatically, I suggest the following activities and behaviors:

In the morning

Brush your teeth paying attention to the brush movements and the feel of the toothbrush and toothpaste in your mouth, teeth, and gums. An excellent trick to concentrate better is to brush your teeth with the other hand, that is, the left hand if you are right-handed or the right hand if you are left-handed.

When you shower, focus on your body, on your movements, on the sensation of the water running through your body.

On the way to work, while at a traffic light, pay attention to everything around you: sky, sun, clouds, wind, trees, buildings, cars, other people, etc. Also, become aware of your body: the sensation of your hands on the wheel, your butt in the seat, and your feet on the ground.

When you walk to the office, in addition to your surroundings, also pay attention to the movement of your body and the feeling of your feet touching the ground.

During the day

When you feel annoyed by something or someone (someone is sneaking in, a driver whistling at you, a noisy group on the bus, the noise of a construction site), trap yourself in your negative thoughts. Think if you can do something to change the situation, or it is a matter of attitude. Accept the situation.

At breakfast, lunch, or dinner, pay attention to the smell, appearance, texture, and taste of the food.

When you talk to someone, try to be present and attentive to what they are saying verbally and non-verbally. Become aware when you get lost in your thoughts and are preparing your reply instead of listening carefully.

If worries or things you have to do come to mind, write them down to clear your head. Then focus on one thing you want to do. Focus on that task and put aside thoughts about other things you should or would like to do.

Become aware of repetitive thoughts you have. If it is chores or errands, write them down. If they are concerns, think about how you can resolve them. Can you do something about it, or are you resisting what it is and accepting the situation as it is?

If you need to think about something precisely and consciously, take time for it.

The next time you go for a walk, pay attention to your surroundings and nature.

Kids could be your teachers

Take a look at a baby or toddler and how they live in the present. When a baby is hungry, she wants to eat. When she plays, she immerses herself in the game.

Kids do not wonder what they should eat next or what time they should go to bed. When a kid falls while playing, it will hurt, and it may cry. However, if we let it return to the game, it will instantly forget.

As children grow up, we educate them to worry about the future or resist accepting the past. But they are not born with this kind of mind that we have.

Conclusion

Do you see now? There are many opportunities to stop living on autopilot and pay more attention to here and now. Remember that stress is due to future projections and demands that we impose on ourselves, while the feeling of pain or guilt is caused by not having forgiven and accepted things from the past.

However, you can free yourself from this burden if you realize that life is the moment right now. It is all there that you have, and you can choose how you want to experience it.

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