Principles of Purpose: Be Mindful
Tentatively titled Principles of Purpose: A Guide To Living Wisely, is an ongoing draft of a concept I might one day publish a book on. It’s essentially 30 Principles that I think are essential to living life wisely. Some are principles that I wished I had learned much earlier in life. Many are principles that I only learned in recovery in 2016-2017. Still other principles were ones I had applied off and on during my 56 years.
|Preface||Introduction||Trusting Your Gut||Use Good Judgement|
|Listen||Regulate Emotions||Set Boundaries||Be Mindful|
“Mindfulness allows us to watch our thoughts, see how one thought leads to the next, decide if we’re heading down an unhealthy path, and, if so, let go and change directions.”Sharon Salzberg
What Is It To Be Mindful?
To Be Mindful simply means actively paying attention to our thoughts and feelings without judgement. It is focus on the present circumstances.
Many of you already know that mindfulness is one of the 5 pillars of my recovery. I have found that when I am fully into the mindfulness mindset, I am usually reacting appropriately to my surroundings or any flare-ups I may have emotionally. Mindfulness is directly tied into one’s ability to live presently; to Live In The Now. Essentially, we become impartial observers to what is happening as the moments of life unfold.
By being an impartial observer, we are better able to ascertain whether our thoughts and feelings match the given situation. Without being judgemental, we can more appropriately respond and react to what is happening at any given moment. It also helps to maintain a high level of self-awareness, one that allows us to be much more proactive in our adaptive responses to various situations and the emotions that arise from them.
|Mindfulness Is||Mindfulness Is Not|
|-> being fully in the present moment|
-> completely “awake” and aware
-> increasing awareness of what is
-> controlling your mind vs. your mind controlling you
-> a way to fall asleep
-> a means to avoiding emotions
Being Mindful Means Slowing Down
By focusing our attention without judgement we are, in essence, slowing things down. Being mindful allows us to be the casual observer; not only to feelings, but also to those around us.
By slowing down what we are processing at any given moment, mindfulness keeps us much better equipped to maintain emotional equilibrium. Practicing mindfulness as a way of viewing present moments also keeps us grounded. We become more free to pick and choose how it is we will react to distressing or upsetting situations. Situations our emotions sometimes led the way on!
It also means we won’t end up reacting irrationally or prematurely, should our emotions suddenly get out of whack. Because we are vigilant, we can see what is happening and adapt ourselves accordingly.
Steps For Being Mindful
- slow the event down
- focus on what is happening
- identify how you are feeling
- concentrate on an object or your breathing
- pause and mentally “step back”
- concentrate fully on everyday things (e.g. eating, color of leaves, smells)
- tune into the moment and the facts at hand
Just A Few Mindfulness Techniques
There are other ways to be mindful. To be mindful is not just about being vigilant with our thoughts and emotions. What if we find ourselves super stressed out and we just can’t seem to get focused or calm? Well, there are other methods of deploying the BE MINDFUL mentality:
–Breathing. Simply paying attention to our breathing allows ourselves to calm not only the noise in our head, but also any unruly responses that may be disrupting the present. Check out more about breathing and techniques.
–Mantra. A mantra is a word or sound that is generally repeated to aid in concentration during meditation. However, I often use my mantra during times I feel my stress levels rising, or when I just need to quiet the noise in my head. There are many benefits to using a mantra in everyday life.
My mantra is actually two 3-syllable words that I quietly say. I say one word on my inhale, the other on the exhale. And, since I have been using my mantra since 2016 during quite a few meditation sessions, it instantly has a positive effect on my wellbeing when I put it into use. A mantra is a very private thing, so don’t tell anyone it!
–Visualization. This is a great mindfulness method. You simply choose something or someone to visualize in your mind and concentrate on that visualization to bring you back to a place of calm. You can do this just about anywhere, though I don’t recommend you necessarily close your eyes if you are in a crosswalk. Many successful people have used visualization to achieve goals and dreams as well.
–Meditation. The myriad benefits of meditation are numerous. Meditation can be done any time, and just about anywhere. There are many choices when it comes to meditation. I personally like self-directed meditations, ones that are not guided by a speaker attempting to direct the meditation for you.
If you have difficulty with meditation, perhaps a Guided Meditation could be just the thing to get you started. Either way, I cannot emphasize how incredibly beneficial a daily meditation can be.
Some of the Benefits of Being Mindful
|Less Stress||Ability to deal with illness||Facilitation of recovery||Decreased depression|
|Improved general health||Better emotion regulation||Decreased anxiety||Improved social skills|
|Reduced work burnout||Better concentration||Better job performance||Improved relationships|
|Better mood||Stronger coping skills||Reduced rumination||Increased focus|
10 Minute Mindfulness Practice
Here are some tips on how you can incorporate a 10-minute mindfulness exercise to your daily routine. You are sure to reap many of the benefits listed above, and will be mindful on the regular in no time!
- Find the right motivation and intention. If you are experiencing a busy day or just don’t feel like practicing mindfulness, it might help to remind yourself why you practice and what it can do for you.
- Find the right attitude and attention. Each practice will be different, but try not to think of them as “better” or “worse.” There is no bad way to become more mindful.
- Find the right time and timing. Just as each practice will be different, the length of time appropriate for your practice can vary as well. Some days you may need only a few minutes, and other times you may want to stick with it for a bit longer to make sure you have a rewarding experience.
- Find the right spot and posture. It’s important to feel safe and secure, wherever you decide to practice. That may be on a cushion on the floor, in your office chair at work, or even sitting in your car in traffic. You will benefit from finding a comfortable and familiar spot for your regular practice, but there’s no harm in modifying your seat or posture if circumstances require it!
- Find the right routine and stick to it! Although the length, location, and posture of your practice can and will change depending on your situation, it’s best to make a minimum commitment when it comes to frequency. Whether practicing once a day works best for you, or multiple times a day, find a routine that you will be able to stick to in the long-term. (Lucid Living, 2013).