Mindful or mind full?

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It’s 2016 and if you ask how somebody is doing, they’ll probably say “busy” — I dare to bet you that they will say that. Isn’t that something? That everybody is busy, and everybody just keeps going like a machine. Even with technology nowadays, we keep going like machines 24/7. We have the ‘opportunity’ to check our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and email every second of the day. Looks like a blessing, but it isn’t always. Because we are able to do this, everything else goes on the automatic pilot — even our breathing, which is a good thing or else you wouldn’t even be able to read this article. But my point is that it’s nice to stop and be aware of who we are, once in awhile. To be aware of our breath, or our movement, and not only what we do. This is also known as mindfulness, and mindfulness might be the key solution to slow down once in a while.

What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a way of life originated from Buddhism. It might sound very dreamy, but it’s actually quite down to earth. It comes from meditation practices and it slows us down to experience, to see, to breathe, to live. It makes us aware of the moment, and it can assist us in making better choices and to live in the moment without worry. Here is the ABC to mindfulness:

  • A stands for awareness — becoming more aware of what you are thinking and doing – what’s going on in your mind and body.
  • B stands for being — just being in the moment by avoiding the tendency to respond on auto-pilot and feed problems by creating your own story.
  • C stands for ‘seeing’ — By creating a gap between the experience and our reaction to, we can make wiser choices.

Why should you practice mindfulness?
There are several benefits in practicing mindfulness. You will learn to recognise, slow down and stop automatic reactions, such as worrying if you hear something. You will learn to respond more effectively to complex and difficult situations, for instance if you are in a situation which could trigger anger and make matters worse, but you can learn to take a step back and react more rationally. You will learn to experience situations more clearly and you will become more creative.

How should I practice mindfulness?
It all sounds very good, doesn’t it? All the benefits mentioned above. It might sound even too good to be true, but it isn’t. All it takes is a little effort and a lot of awareness. There are a few ways to be more aware and mindful. First things first, a little note on mindfulness: like a muscle, mindfulness has to be practiced and trained. You wouldn’t run a marathon without training, would you? Mindfulness isn’t something that you have or don’t have, it’s something you can train.

  • Be mindful during your routines. Try to be more aware whilst doing the dishes. Look at your dishes. See the details. Say to yourself ‘I am doing the dishes’. Look closely for dirty spots on the dishes. See whether the dishes are clean. Same goes for any other routines. You can be mindful whilst brushing your teeth. Describe to yourself what you’re doing. It might sound ridiculous, but after a while you will get the hang of it. By thinking about what you are doing at the moment, you will train your mindfulness.
  • Do mindful walking. Well that sounds silly, doesn’t it? ‘Mindful walking’? What the hell would that be? Mindful walking is practicing mindfulness whilst you’re walking. Take notice of your steps. Think to yourself, while walking, ‘left step’, ‘right step’, ‘left step’. You will train yourself in walking mindfully, and paying attention to the here and now.
  • Body scan. Do a body scan. It isn’t as scary as it sounds. A body scan is a ‘mental scan’ you do and you pay attention to every limb in your body. By doing so, you’re grounding yourself ‘back into’ your body, and ‘out of’ your head, if you feel like you’re consumed by thoughts.

The three tips above are just the tip of the iceberg. There are so much more ways to be mindful. You can be mindful in everything you do, but you can also just do these things for only five minutes a day. It’s really up to what you like and what you want. Something else you can do, is download an app. It sounds contradicting, but you can use the ‘evil’ technology for your own good and learn to be mindful with it. There are a lot of apps, but my favorite is Buddhify. There are over 100 (!!) tracks you are guided through in almost every action in the daily life you can think of. Now, close this article and be mindful!

By Rocher Koendjbiharie

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