Mindfulness is one of those things that is being talked about in every which way you look these days. We are told that to free ourselves from our past burdens, we should try practicing mindfulness. If we want to release ourselves from the stress of our everyday lives, we should take time for ourselves and focus on being mindful. Or if we want to start living a more meaningful and fulfilling life, then we should stop everything that we are doing and learn to be one with life itself.
As somebody who is learning how to be more mindful, you may be wondering how you can achieve this state of bliss. Even though learning to become more mindful and present is supposed to be the exact opposite of complicated, the thought of abandoning everything you know just to be one with the present moment can be incredibly challenging.
Think about your average day. You may have emails to respond to, phone calls to answer, meetings to attend to, and anything else that may consume your time. And this is all while you’re at work.
How about when you get home at night? You have bills to pay, other obligations that require your undivided attention, and potentially a family to raise. It can get incredibly chaotic and time can pass you by in the blink of an eye.
Now, in the middle of all that, you have somebody telling you to be more mindful? If only you had the time to actually knew what that meant or had time to do it.
The good news is that you do. Pausing to practice mindfulness for even just 12 minutes a day can help your days be better within the walls of your mind, more in line with the direction of your life, and to also gain a better understanding of the world around you.
But what is mindfulness and how do you actually become more mindful and present?
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, to be aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and to not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. It’s a state of living for the moment that we are in, and for only this moment.
It’s about noticing when our thoughts have drifted to the past or wandered into the future, and to bring our awareness back to the very moment we are in because it’s the only moment that matters. Simply put, it’s about living for the moment that we are in and only for this moment. We can’t change the past and the future is all but certain, so it makes no sense to let the past or future to take away from the moment that we have right here, right now.
How Can Mindfulness Help You?
I have made it a priority of mine to try and become more mindful and present in life. As somebody who suffers from depression and anxiety, my mind often wanders to places of uncertainty.
Not a day goes by where I don’t catch myself trying to change the past trying to overly control the present. Endless possibilities start to cloud my thoughts, and it gets to the point where the present moment becomes miserable to live in because of the stress and anxiety that I have inflicted upon myself.
This is where practicing how to become more mindful and present has really helped me in my personal journey. While I am still new to this practice, bringing my awareness back to the only moment that matters (the present) has helped me to experience less stress and anxiety. It has also quieted the once never-ending possibilities that would race through my mind.
5 Ways to Become More Mindful and Present
Today, I want to share with you some of the strategies that I find to be most effective in learning to become more mindful and present. It is my hope that you try them out for yourself and experience first hand the many benefits that I have experienced in the short amount of time since making mindfulness a priority in my life.
1. Make mindfulness a priority first thing in the day.
Many people (myself included) get interested in the art of practicing mindfulness as a way to deal with stress or difficult situations. If you are just hearing about mindfulness, it’s probably because you are currently stressed or anxious and are looking for ways to calm the thoughts that are running through your mind.
While this isn’t a bad idea, it also may not be the most effective. Don’t wait until you are stressed to start practicing mindfulness. Start practicing mindfulness as a way to train your mind to be more present so that it doesn’t experience the stress of the past and future.
If we try to practice mindfulness in the middle of all the chaos that fills our lives, it’s a lot like trying to ride a bike with no training wheels for the very first time. While there is a possibility that you can benefit from it, the odds aren’t necessarily in your favor.
Don’t make it any harder for yourself than what it already seems! Carve out a few minutes of your morning and try to be one with yourself and the moment you are in. Start with the pleasant moments, not when all of life’s challenges and struggles are thrown your way.
2. Catch your thoughts as they come.
This is probably the most challenging part of learning to become more mindful and present.
We are often led to believe that in order to be successful and to accomplish our goals, then we need to get as much done as we possibly can in as short of an amount of time as possible. This makes it so that when thoughts of our past and future come to our minds, we are too busy to recognize them before they strengthen.
It’s not easy to catch negative thoughts or thoughts of the past and future before they become overpowering, but this is where focusing solely on the present can really help. It helps you to recognize negative thoughts before they become powerful, to overpower those thoughts with more positive ones, and to get back to focusing on the one moment that matters.
The more you prioritize the here and now, the more difficult it becomes for your negative thoughts and emotions to cloud your mind.
3. Create both a healthy body and a healthy mind.
Any type of physical exercise can be a beneficial mindfulness practice. Whether it is going outside on a bike ride, practicing yoga, running in the park — whatever your favorite form of exercise is, do more of it.
Not only does physical exercise have many benefits to your physical health, but it is also incredibly beneficial for your mental health as well.
For me, I enjoy running. Not only is it a great way to get fresh air, but it also gets me in tune with the present moment. My main focus when running isn’t on what happened yesterday or the possibilities of tomorrow. It’s on the here and now, the pain that I am feeling in my legs, and the sweat that is dripping down my body. It is these moments that make me feel the most alive, and rightfully so.
4. Don’t take on too much at once.
If you truly want to become more mindful and present, you need to learn to say no. Every time we say yes to something, we are saying no to a million other things. The more we say yes to, the more we are filling our minds with other priorities that aren’t necessarily benefiting us or moving us in the direction in which we want to be going.
The more we try to multitask and commit to things that don’t really benefit us, the more we drain our minds of energy that could be used to do something that will benefit us. Mindful people will often tell you to focus solely on one thing at a time. If you think about it, this makes sense. If there is a lot to do or we are trying to do too much at once, our attention is elsewhere instead of the task at hand. Because we don’t prioritize this task and give it our undivided attention, we aren’t completing this task to our fullest potential.
This isn’t to say that you should say no to everything around you, but listen to your heart. Your heart and your intuition know what’s best for you. This is your life, and ultimately, you have to do what is going to be best for you. Learn to think slower and think with reason instead of only thinking and acting out of impulse.
5. Make breathing a priority.
When I become overly stressed or experience negative emotions, my breathing becomes shallow. It’s almost as if I forgot how to actually breathe. And when I don’t focus on my breathing, I have noticed that the stress that I am feeling continues to build until it becomes overpowering.
This is where focusing on breathwork helps. Not only does it help to lift the stress that you are currently feeling, but it also helps you to focus on the present moment. As air fills your lungs, your body finds a sense of stillness. As you exhale, not only does your body relax, but the negative thoughts and stress that you are feeling will flow out of your body and out of your mind.
There are times where I am overly stressed and breathing becomes a challenge, but this is when we just have to do our best and be mindful. It doesn’t mean that we force negative thoughts from passing through our minds. It means that we recognize these thoughts, gently push them to the sides of our mind, and focus only on the moment in which we are living in.
All we have to do is to focus our attention on the present moment and to allow ourselves to be one with what is around us. Be grateful for the moment that you are currently living in as it truly is a blessing.
Whenever you think about mindfulness, or whether you have to set a reminder to prioritize mindfulness, make an effort to implement it into your daily life. There are so many benefits to being more mindful and present, but none are greater than finding a sense of peace and gratitude for the life that we are living.
See for yourself what it means to become more mindful and present. Use these tips to help you focus on the moment that you are living in as it may be the last one you get.