5 Ways To Be More Mindful
Alarms, agendas, calendars, planners. Meetings, schedules, emails, phone calls. Reminders, to-do lists, likes, and shares. We live in the digital age of incessant planning,evaluation, and attention grabbing. In every moment, we are assessing some aspect of our lives: our bodies, our relationships, our bank accounts -- even our happiness has become something to pre-plan.
And we wonder why we’re so exhausted.
So how do we get our lives back? How do we reclaim our peace in the midst of this whirlwind of worries, demands, and obligations? The answer is simple: mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in the now, or the current moment. When we are mindful we neither replay the past, nor obsess over the future. We simply exist in our purest, most peaceful state.
To some, mindfulness might seem like a pipe dream or some hippie fantasy. I am here to tell you that not only is mindfulness possible, but it is essential to living your best life and taking things to the next level. In fact, astate of mindfulness is your birthright as a human being, and you don’t have to move to a secluded mountain top or take a vow of silence to achieve it.
Below, find 5 simple, practical ways to be more mindful in your everyday life:
Spend time in nature
There’s a reason you enjoy feeling the sun on your face or the breeze through your hair. Nature engages our senses to bring us physically into the moment. The mind, on the other hand, often needs a bit more convincing. Making a concerted effort to spend more time outside gives your mind and body the chance to synchronize in peaceful harmony. Take a daily walk, bike around your neighborhood, or just sit on a park bench. Swap the sounds of music for nature’s symphony--it’s free and strikingly beautiful, if you pay attention.
You don’t have to run a marathon or become a powerlifter, but moving your body in some way is a great way to become more mindful. When we’re anxious or in our heads all day long, that tension manifests itself in our bodies. Stiff limbs, cracking joints and an aching back may be a sign that you need to be more mindful. Even if it’s just stretching for a few minutes every day, exercise snaps us out of autopilot and wakes us up to our bodies. Additionally, because exercise demands you to pay attention to pace and/or form, it forces you to check all other thoughts at the door. It’s pretty tough to stress about bills or agendas when you’re running on the treadmill.
Turn off your phone--or put it on airplane mode
In the age of group chats, social media, and push notifications, it’s hard to remember a time when we weren’t accessible at the touch of a button. On top of the millions of thoughts in your own brain, we’re now tasked with keeping up with the lives of friends, family members, and complete strangers. Plot twist--you don’t have to. Turning your phone off for few hours (or even just one, if you’re starting out) can work wonders for waking you up to the present. You’ll notice how much richer your conversations become when your full attention is on the other person. You may also discover what it is that you like about yourself, when you’re not constantly checking likes for signs of other people’s validation. Unplug for a bit and rediscover your unfiltered self.
We’re all creative by nature. Yes, all of us. Even the number-crunchers started off as curious kids playing in fingerpaint and building with legos. Somewhere along the line many of us stopped prioritizing creative expression, but it’s amazing how life unfolds when we are tapping into our libidinal energy - the options are virtually endless. If dancing or painting aren’t your thing, try an adult coloring book. Any task where you can immerse yourself in the process brings you out of your worries, and into the present.
Finally, try to incorporate meditation into your daily routine. With the advent of meditation apps, meditation is now more accessible than ever. If the idea of emptying your mind intimidates you, don’t worry. It’s perfectly natural for it to take time to learn how to quiet your inner dialogue -- most of ours have been running unchecked in the background for years. Over time you’ll learn how to observe your thoughts and slowly let them go. The space between your thoughts will expand and you’ll find how freeing it is to exist as you were meant to be: without worry, anxiety, or regret.
There you have it -- 5 simple ways to be more mindful and you can start today. Remember, mindfulness is a practice, not a destination. If you find yourself slipping back into thoughts of yesterday or tomorrow, do not be discouraged. Simply catch yourself and slip willingly back into the now. You’ll thank yourself.
Lucas Saiter is a therapist based in New York City. His services include therapy for stress, anxiety, depression, intimacy issues, as well as coaching for entrepreneurs, creative professionals, adults and LGBT clients. His life mission is to guide others, helping them to build healthier perceptions of themselves and stronger relationships so that they may feel more peaceful, whole and safe. He combines cognitive-behavioral therapy and insight-oriented psychodynamic therapy and also writes prolifically to make healing more accessible for all. His practice is located near Flatiron, Chelsea, NoMad, Union Square and the West Village. Contact him today for a complimentary phone consultation.