Why Mindfulness Makes Sense to Me and How I Do It
Mindful living is something I have been enjoying recently and I know I have been posting about how I’ve adapted it to being a mother and other important aspects of my life, including eating and weight loss. However, this post is not only going to talk about how to work mindfully, it will also discuss reasons why mindful work makes more sense for well, people like me.
Three Reasons to Be Mindful
I’d love to say that mindfulness would miraculously change your life. Well it won’t. But it will make a huge difference to the way you feel at the end of the day or even at the end of an activity. Instead of feeling tired, drained and exhausted from running around, you will end up feeling calm, relaxed and fulfilled.
Anyway, while I was reading up on mindful living, I did a bit of research on its benefits. So, here they are:
1. Mindfulness for Better Health. According to studies and research by psychologists like Jon Kabat-Zinn and others mindfulness has a positive effect on “brain function, lowering the stress response and increasing feelings of relaxation and well-being.” Wow! Good enough for me. Moreover, practicing being mindful while eating has really helped me monitor my food choices and eat healthy, wholesome foods in a calm and peaceful manner.
2. Mindfulness for Increased Productivity. Being mindful and focused on the now helps one to do more in less time and feel more peaceful and satisfied inside. According to Joel and Michelle Levey in Living in Balance, “ If you learn to bring greater mindfulness to even a fraction of these activities, you will add years of quality experience to your life and probably discover all sorts of time to do more of what you would like to in you life.”
3. Mindfulness for Greater Joy. Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “Developing true presence has two purposes. The first is to make contact with everything that is beautiful, refreshing, and healing. …. The second thing that mindfulness does is allow us to come back to ourselves and embrace our pain.” Mindfulness means being immersed in the now. These two simple reasons show how mindfulness enables us to experience joy by cherishing the beauty in the present and by releasing our pain.
Five Ways to Live Mindfully… Easily
Since shifting from a multi-tasking frame of living to one that made me focus on the task at hand wasn’t easy, I thought of sharing the five ways I learnt to be more mindful and immersed in the Now.
1. Cutting Out Distractions for Mindfulness. The first thing I did was list out the distractions that I had while working, reading, relaxing, eating and so on. Being a total list-it person made this fun and easy, but if you aren’t the list-it types, you may just want to cut out all distractions whenever you’re working. Again, if you are a full-time, stay-at-home or work-at-home mom like me, this step may be difficult, but not impossible.
You see, I figured out, that as long as I was focusing on the task at hand while I was doing it, I was completely into it and it made me peaceful, focused and attentive. I could take away my attention every now and then to answer my daughter, look at her drawings or fix her a snack. And then, go back to whatever it was I was doing. I used this with everything – work, play, rest. To start with, I did it for a week and by the end of the week, I had accomplished the same amount of things that I got done by multi-tasking but I felt less rushed and stressed out. ***smiling***
2. Being Realistic About Being Mindful. Since the whole idea of moving to mindfulness from multitasking was to enjoy a sense of peace, calm and harmony, I was quite realistic about it. I know that with a toddler, a work-at-home career and a home and husband to take care of, life and things can be busy, unscheduled, interrupted and basically, thrown off track.
However, in the midst of all the uncertainty, the one thing that is certain is that by being mindful I give all of my attention to whatever I am doing. So, if I am playing with my daughter in the middle of a writing session, then I’m playing. I’m not trying to type out a sentence while talking to her doll at the same time. Do I get less work done? Not really, since I have simplified my commitments and to-do lists. Do I get better work done? Absolutely.
3. Do One Thing at a Time. If there is one way to be mindful, it is this. Focus on one thing. Talking on the phone, talk. You may walk around if you like but give the conversation your full attention. Writing a blog post. Write. Don’t hop over to a forum or Twitter in the middle of the article or if you really need a break, then take a break but don’t jump back and forth. Doing one thing at a time takes getting used to but it is such a relief. Try it!
In fact, I’ve learnt a lot about being mindful from my daughter (details in another post!) and this “doing one thing bit” is something I’ve seen her and other children demonstrate plenty of times.
4. Simplifying Life and Commitments. This is something I’ve learnt and absorbed from Leo Babuata of Zen Habits fame. His passion for simple living and minimalism is legendary and it is from him that I learnt to reduce my to-do list, cut out commitments that I really didn’t need or want (tough!) and basically simplify my life and routine which made mindful living so much easier. So, what is the one thing that you could let go off today to simplify your life? Think about it. Am sure there will be something that can be deleted from that packed planner.
5. Meditation and Yoga. Since I practice Nichiren Buddhism, I have to do my morning and evening prayers or gongyo followed by at least ten minutes of chanting or daimoku. That is my meditation. During this time, I focus only on the Gohonzon and the sound of my chant. It is deeply relaxing, reassuring, and great practice for being focused. You could find a way to meditate that suits you and start with just five minutes each day. You’ll see the difference really soon.
Yoga is another great way of being focused and immersed in the Now. Yoga requires paying attention to posture, breath and how the body responds to the various stretches and flexes. In other words, you’ve got to be mindful when doing yoga. Aside from its numerous health benefits (again, in a later post!), yoga helps increase mindfulness by making it a natural part of one’s life. There are many ways to learn yoga but I would strongly recommend finding a certified or trained yoga teacher to teach you the poses properly before you consider doing it on your own at home.
Mindfulness may not be for everyone. If you are happy multi-tasking, then stay that way. I wasn’t. Instead, I was stressed, irritable and feeling rushed the whole day. Mindfulness offered me the peace and calm that my soul craved for and using it has made a difference to the way I view the world and life.
Photo Credit: Yogendra174