I first heard about mindfulness from my mother a couple of years ago, now I see it everywhere, mindful living is here to stay. I personally practice it daily and its become sort of a lifestyle staple for me. Being mindful and aware has pushed me to evolve into a better human and it even has the side effect of bringing more joy into my life. Awesome, right?
If you’re new to the mindful game, the concept is actually quite simple. All you have to do is be present in the moment. That’s the gist of it! I do have to say that it’s way more complicated to actually commit and do it. Being intentional with your every thought and action is hard. I’ve been practicing and adopting it in my life for two years now and I still struggle to find that balance sometimes. My phone being my biggest weakness.
The thing is, mindful living is totally worth the effort. It helps you wake up from this dream state that we’re all in. It’s like taking off those rose colored glasses and actually seeing and living your life for the first time.
Most of us have lived in a state where our minds are anywhere but the present moment our entire lives! It’s not our fault, it’s just the way society in general operates, it’s what we’ve been conditioned to do and the way of life that has been branded into our brains since birth. We’re constantly locked in thoughts about what we’re doing later, how many emails we have to respond to, hung up about something someone said last weekend and analyzing it to pieces. Our minds are focusing on everything except the present moment.
We’re either worried about our futures or resenting our past mistakes. All the while the present is passing on by without so much as a goodbye, not because our present isn’t waving goodbye, but because our faces are glued to our phones too busy to even notice. I mean we can’t even binge-watch a Netflix show without scrolling through the ‘gram simultaneously!
Mindful Living 101
Here’s the thing. There’s thousands of articles out there about mindful living and adopting mindfulness into your life through meditation and breathing exercises. While I think meditation is important and so so good for a well rounded life, I’m not here to tell you that if you want a mindful life you have to adopt meditation. I know its not for everyone, so I want to explain my own take on mindful living because it stretches far beyond that.
Mindfulness is a lifestyle. A well rounded mindful life is about getting rid of the clutter in your head and in your space. It’s about living in the present as opposed to the past or future. Living in a space that surrounds you with joy, not burden. Let’s break it down:
Cultivating a Mindful Mind
Have you ever driven your car somewhere and arrived at your destination only to realize you don’t remember getting there? Or started eating a snack and then suddenly noticed you’ve been mindlessly shoving food in your mouth for a while? Most of us have! I’ve had my fair share of mindless eating.
I like to call this state: ‘mindlessness’, AKA being on autopilot. Basically our minds are wandering elsewhere, most probably worried about the future or pondering past regrets, all the while our body is just acting on autopilot.
Mindfulness is when your mind and body are together. You are in sync in the here and now, acting intentionally. When you are in the present moment, your mind connected with your body, you can identify the many many sources of happiness that are in you and around you.
Imagine being happy all the time! It’s literally always right there at your fingertips. You just have to shut down your phone, put away the snacks, stand still and look for it, body and soul. Because when you stop and clear your mind, lower your heartbeat and really become aware, joy just comes naturally.
This is why meditation is always the first thing you read when it comes to mindfulness. But you don’t have to sit cross legged and say OMMM if that’s not your thing. You just have to be still and away from society’s distractions to take a moment and align your mind, body and soul. No matter how many times in the day you loose yourself in the past or future, always come back to that alignment. As long as you consciously decide to take a moment to do that, you’ll be nurturing a mindful life. In other words, put the phone down, and listen to your inner Self.
Creating Mindful Surroundings
The second part, equally important, to mindful living is your space. I’m talking bout your house, your surroundings, your wardrobe and everything physical outside of yourself. A mindful lifestyle in my opinion, only has room for things that bring you joy, remind you of joy or aid in any of your intentions.
For example, if you’re familiar with Marie Kondo’s awesome book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, then you probably know that her whole brand is about only keeping things that spark joy in you. Well, I believe that this is true for a mindful life. Imagine if we only kept things that made us happy. If we stopped holding on to objects that reminded us of our failures, heartbreaks and just awful memories. You would only leave room for the essentials that spark joy, you would have less distractions pulling you towards past regret or future worries.
In my pursuit of a mindful lifestyle, I did a very thorough purge of things in my life. I’m talking about clothes that I bought years ago a size too small as “motivation”, home decor items that I bought impulsively, Apps that sucked away my time (and joy) and everything that I felt I had been keeping for the wrong reasons. I totally get that some people have emotional attachments to things, but I like to think that if you are being mindful, you are aware that joy comes from within, not shiny things outside ourselves.
If you can live like a minimalist, that’s even better! Humans have too much stuff. I really really know how hard it is to let go, but if you want to move on to bigger better things, you have to let go. Keeping that dress a size too small for a year only reminded me that I had failed to loose the weight, keeping me from loving myself as I am. Those home decor items that I bought impulsively were there only as a reminder that I had spent money on something I didn’t need that was currently clashing with my current home. The Facebook and Buzzfeed Apps were only taking precious time away from me and giving me anxiety from comparing my life to others. All of these things were keeping me in the past or the future, not in the present. I was hurting myself.
So I strongly believe that a mindful life spreads into our surroundings and how we act in the physical world. Acting with intention, not impulse makes for a better life anyway.
Why Should You Care?
Why bother to spend the time being mindful? Why throw away your memories and objects you spent your hard earned cash on? Listen, I get it. It took me so long to take mindfulness seriously. My mom tried to get me to practice it since I was 14. I mean I’m 28 now and I’ve only been doing it for two years. Its a commitment that asks you to abandon everything you’ve ever known, it makes you push through your limiting beliefs, your comfort zone, your favorite excuses as to not do something. It makes you a bit vulnerable sometimes and you have to confront yourself. We’re so used to hiding behind thoughts like: “When I have THIS I’ll be happy”, “In the future I’m going to do THIS” or “If I had done THIS three years ago, my life would be THIS”. When all it takes is being present to change our realities. So I get it, it’s difficult to take a hard look at your life and become aware that you’ve been too worried about your future or blaming your past to actually live.
A stress-free life doesn’t exist, but being mindful will definitely make you more prepared to deal with the stresses that will inevitably come your way. Being mindful will help you overcome the fears that have been holding you back, everything that’s keeping you from making positive changes in your life. Mindfulness is the gateway to mastering your mind and having the life you’ve always dreamed of. It’s pure magic! So it is my hope that this helps clear some of the misconceptions of this lifestyle as well as give you a better understanding as to why practicing mindfulness is so freeing.
To better help you on your journey I have created this cheat sheet full of my favorite tools for mindful living. It’s a collection of things I’ve learned, things I am still practicing and I’ve found are quite useful when starting out. Click below to download and enjoy!
Do you practice mindfulness in your life? If not, would you give it a try? Let me know in the comments! If you have any questions about it, I’m here and happy to help!