In this day and age, we are overworked, overstressed, and overwhelmed. The pace of life is faster than ever. The bombardment of information, the economic, social and political stresses are all creating internal and external turmoil.
As a result, we feel continuously rushed, and our lifestyles are out of balance. Many of us have a hard time sleeping, breathing, or even properly digesting our food. More of us experience serious health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and drug addiction. Our relationships with ourselves and others are affected, and with that, our sense of enjoyment and appreciation of life suffers. The cost is very high; we lack peace, happiness, and true fulfillment.
Mindfulness is a very effective tool for creating inner peace and balance. Mindfulness calls us to live in the present moment, which is the only moment we have. It is a form of non-judgmental, relaxed awareness.
When we are mindful, we are purposely paying attention to the current moment, from our emotions to our environment. Through mindfulness, we learn to allow things to simply be, rather than trying to control, resist, or fix everything around us.
Here are few key elements to cultivating mindfulness in your life.
5 Ways to Cultivate Mindfulness
1) Learn to observe rather than judge.
Most of us operate from a place of worry, anxiety, and judgment of ourselves and others. This state of mind is preventing us from accepting, receiving and enjoying life. Observing or witnessing teaches us to relax, accept, and drop judgment. As a result, our state of being sifts to a more peaceful one.
2) Notice your “monkey mind.”
Our monkey mind is part of our defensive self. It is relentlessly commenting on everything we come in contact with. It pushes us to file things in drawers according to categories. We have the “good” drawers and “bad” drawers in our minds. There, we collect our likes and dislikes.
As we go through life, we are constantly bouncing between rejection and attachment, jumping from the future to the past and back again. This reactive way of being does not allow for observation, awareness and peace.
It is most important to begin to observe this kind of obsessive and compulsive thinking. If you are a meditator, you know how hard it is to relax the monkey mind. It takes practice. But the first step is to notice it and identify its action and its impact on it. As your mindfulness practice grow, you can learn to slow and relax your monkey mind.
3) Learn a healthy detachment from the inner drama.
The twin of the monkey mind is an emotional drama. Emotional drama is the inner turmoil of contradicting, conflicting, and painful emotions that swirl around and torment us. This can happen in relation to a past or present event. Most of the time, emotional drama touches on a pool of unresolved emotional experiences of the past.
So, how do we handle our inner drama? An important aspect is to learn is how to identify and witness our emotional reactions with a sense of compassion and a healthy detachment. Treat your emotions as you would a child that you love. Allow yourself to experience them and move through them so that you can find a way beyond. Remember, you have emotions, but you are not your emotions. You are the witness to them.
4) Set up a daily meditational or “mindful” practice.
Because of the pressures we experience in life, it is hard to find a moment for ourselves. On the other hand, if we don’t find quiet and stillness, our lives will become more complicated and spin further out of balance.
Related: 9 Benefits of Meditation
There are many ways to carve out time to meditate. Exercise, yoga, cleaning your house, or merely sitting on a bench to watch the sky—all of these activities are ways to find peace. The most important element is your ability to quiet the monkey mind, ground your body in your breath, and be mindful at the moment.
5) Teach yourself to live in the moment.
We are never “at the moment.” Our thoughts are always pulling us in different directions. We obsess over what we have to do, going through past and future dialogues, and projecting and worrying about the future. We have lost the ability to be fully engaged in the present moment.
Deep down, we all long to experience and enjoy every moment we have. On some level, we need to become more like children by training ourselves to smell the roses and appreciate the simple things in life. We should aim to cultivate the most basic right of life—enjoyment!
Life is meant to be a journey of discovery, sharing, and creativity. Do not rush through the moments of your life. You only get one life to live in this form, in this body, at this time. Embrace it! Each moment is a gift and you deserve to open up to the moment and live it. Experiencing our moments fully enhances the journey.
Mindfulness grounds us in the present moment. It helps us release stress, shed judgments, worries, and fears, and truly frees us to love and enjoy life.
Take our quiz here to find out how stressed you are.
Nomi Bachar is a holistic spiritual counselor and a self-healing, self-actualization expert and coach. She is the director of White Cedar Institute for Expanded Living LLC and the creator of Gates of Power® Method. Bachar is also the author of Gates of Power: Actualize Your True Self (Findhorn Press.. May 2014).
Photo by s.h.u.t.t.e.r.b.u.g