8 ways I am Infusing More Mindfulness in my Life
We are currently living in a world where being wired in is the new norm. People are plugged into their ear phones, glued to their screens and pretty much dangerously attached to these gadgets, that most even carry back up batteries.
It is more unusual to see someone in a waiting area without being on their screen than it is to spot someone on their screens.
Not living life grounded to the present is touted as the source of all suffering and conflict.
Not sure you believe it, but do you know…I actually do!
Mindfulness has the potential to deprive humanity of unnecessary pain and promote the fullness of the human experience.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is being fully in the present moment and bringing awareness to it.
We are consciousness and our existence in our physical bodies is temporary before we return to only-consciousness.
I know…right! I expound on this in this post.
Our experiences lead us to more mindfulness
We can all benefit from cultivating more mindfulness and the more we allow ourselves to practise being more mindful, the better we become at being present more often than not.
And the more present we are, the more we can experience the fullness of the human experience, experience less pain and attract more good in our lives.
Being present is a window into our soul
As part of my own awakening, I have embarked on a personal journey of infusing more mindfulness into my own life.
It is one of the most beautifully frustrating experiences that I am learning to lean into–
First of all, I am failing more than I am succeeding, but the realisation that even when I fail, I am always within grip of the present moment, I try again.
I try again knowing that my own happiness is wrapped around my tapping into the present, which though my mind (and my thoughts) is always threatening to rob me of, I can win the battle even just by being aware of this internal battle.
Yes, even as you practise being more present in your life, your monkey brain never ceases with its incessant flood of thoughts, but it’s a relief to know that just being aware of these thoughts that keep getting you out of the present and back into your thoughts, is still progress.
1. Daily Routines
When I’m completing some of my daily routines like washing hands, taking a shower, etc., I am trying to focus only on the actions I am taking. So, if I am washing my hands, I am focused on the action of pumping soap into my hands, appreciating the smell of the soap, feeling how the water feels on my hands and how my hands intertwine as I rub the soap until it lathers.
But, if my mind moves away from the action of washing my hands, I am observing the thoughts that come in and out of my mind without offering judgement to them and gently reminding myself to return to the present; to washing my hands.
If nothing else, the practise of being more present can show us just how cluttered our minds are and how we really do not value our present moments.
We all agree that there is something about nature–
Listening to birds chirp, seeing flowers blossom, hearing the ocean whisper…
Yet, each time we are in nature, we try to drown its sounds. Most people take a walk with their ears plugged with whatever it is they’re listening to.
So, I am making a point of noticing nature and enjoying its presence more and more and each time I see or hear trees rustling, birds chirping, smell or see flowers, I am reminded that I, too am part of nature. This instinctively makes me feel connected and present and I find that I am filled with gratitude.
That there is more right than wrong with the world.
So, as much as possible, I am not drowning nature when I am in it. I am trying to be in it undistracted.
3. Out and About
It is inevitable that you will find yourself zooming to places almost on a daily basis; whether that’s during your daily commute to work or during the running of various errands.
Being in your thoughts can tend to creep in during these moments.
In Kenya, people who have been on the booze and driven home whilst in their stupor, tend to claim that the car knows where they live. As funny (or dangerous) as this may sound, it really does illustrate the point that we are usually operating on auto-pilot for many of our routines.
And you know, when you’re operating on auto-pilot, what ‘s engaged is your subconscious, which is usually what dominates up to 95% of our thoughts.
I read somewhere that a high percentage (can’t remember the exact percentage here) of the thoughts we have are recycled, ie. we are mostly experiencing the same thoughts day in day out.
So, when you find yourself at point Z without having a clear idea of how you got from point A, that demonstrates that your subconscious mind was what you relied on to get yourself to point Z.
A high percentage of our thoughts are recycled; we mostly experience the same thoughts day in day out.
Being more present is getting out of your programs; out of your subconscious and engaging your conscious mind, which is mostly underutilised yet it is the creative part of our mind.
I have come to enjoy my drive to work and seeing the bustle all around– the sokos (open-air markets), the road constructions (and boy! aren’t these everywhere) and I have even come to not mind the traffic snarl ups.
I really try to notice what’s on my path to my destination without always offering a judgement and this has made my drives quite meditative.
4. Being aware of my own Beliefs
I am trying to recognise my own beliefs in various situations and being clear about my unshakable core.
Sadly, beliefs are what we’re made of. Beliefs act as filters in our own lives. Beliefs can therefore shape our experiences.
And yep, there are beliefs that serve you and beliefs that don’t.
Eg. If you think someone doesn’t like you, you show up differently each time you’re interacting with that person.
Beliefs serve the purpose of keeping us safe.
There are beliefs that serve you and beliefs that don’t.
So how do you recognise your own beliefs?
Well, anything that follows the phrasing, “if this, then that…”
So when you connect 2 ideas together eg. if x happens and connect it to the effect of y, then it’s in the act of connecting the 2 together and making a fact out of it; an absolute across the board, that defines it as a belief.
Eg., “If you say ‘no’ to a loved one, that makes you a bad person” (sounds familiar, anyone?).
When you realise you’re operating out of a belief and you can recognise it- you become more mindful; more present.
How many times have we said, “I don’t have time”. How does this phrasing affect how you react; your experiences? Aren’t you more likely to be impatient, snappy…
Do you realise that no matter how little time you have, there has been at least 1 person with less time than you who has been able to accomplish plenty?
I am trying not to interpret situations- they said x, so it must mean y; I was told that x would happen; I was told x is this way, so I will interpret this event as meaning that x is indeed like they said.
I used to be one of those people who bragged how well I can multi-task; like it was something to be really proud about, well, until…
I discovered how unmindful multitasking is; you’re not fully present to anything you’re doing and how great is that?
Besides, multitasking promotes a lot of context switching, which studies have proved not to be effective.
Context switching is when you switch from one task to another. Say, you’re working on your computer, then you get a notification ping on your phone (I don’t know…who’s posted what forward on your family whatsapp group…) and you switch your mind from what you’re doing to look at the message…
If you were to evaluate how much you could complete of any task uninterrupted by pings and multitasking compared to what you complete with all the interruptions, apparently, context switching can cost you up to 40% of your productivity.
Therefore, I am trying (really trying) not to multitask so that I am able to fully focus and be mindful in whatever I am doing.
I can’t lie, It’s difficult. I am consoled by the fact that even being aware of your distractions is a positive step forward in being more mindful.
My baby steps involve;
- If I’m driving, I do not listen to any audio (radio/ podcast) when I am practicing mindfulness (the latter being the key). I have never enjoyed listening to the radio; I would rather drive in silence (which I do a lot). I do however enjoy listening to podcasts. I am one of those people who prefers driving alone to work; it’s a pretty meditative time for me. I look out the window, imagine who lives in the homes I drive past, feeling gratitude for everything I see- the hectic road construction, the trees, admiring buildings, etc.
- I am enjoying being in waiting rooms, but I seem not to be in many for long (he..he).
- I am even enjoying being kept waiting or being stood up…really I do. I use the time I am waiting for someone to catch up on something or even take a little nap. It definitely beats being cranky and throwing a tantrum.
6. My kids
Children, in case you’re not aware, practise mindfulness more freely than adults. That is until we model to them our unmindful habits.
A child mostly thinks about now.
Children are the ones who are constantly jostling us from our preoccupations with life.
Children teach us to surrender to the present moment.
They’ll ask you to stop what you’re doing and join their game or call you out for not looking at them as they excitedly narrate to you their escapades.
I am trying to allow my children to infect me with their mindfulness, which isn’t to say, they always succeed…
Somehow, modern life has allowed us to have less decorum. We have made it ok to interrupt using the excuse of a mobile phone.
What would you think of someone who kept interrupting the conversation you were having with a friend of yours?
I bet you would not be short of words to offer this person yet mobile phones do exactly that.
When you allow a phone call to interrupt a conversation you’re having, there is really no difference between that and allowing someone to physically interrupt your conversation.
Now, I haven’t yet evolved to the point of not allowing all phone calls to interrupt my conversations, but that is what I am working towards.
I hope to cultivate the habit of keeping my phone on vibrate and only answering it if I wasn’t occupied with not just another conversation, but also any other task that has my focus.
I mean, I could always return the call at my convenience, right!
Some rules I am observing;
- I am watching my use of gadgets, particularly my phone. Phones are never allowed at our dinner table.
- I am putting busy WhatsApp groups (those I cannot leave cos I would have if I could…) on permanent ‘mute’. I am also avoiding being in too many groups.
- I do not have any social media activated on my phone.
- Others are a working progress y’all.
8. Words Matter
Finally, I am watching the words I allow to come out of my mouth either through habit or in conforming to my environment.
There are words and phrases I now avoid because they either reinforce the devaluing of the present moment or emphasize a lack mentality.
Phrases like, “I cannot wait to…”, “it’s too good to be true”, “I am broke”, “there’s no time”, “I’m old”, etcetera.
Like anything, the more you practise being mindful, the more you can be mindful for longer periods of time. Like a muscle, how mindful you are will always grow over several practises.
This continues to be my awakening.
If any aspect of what I’ve written struck a chord…you too are waking up and isn’t it so awesome?
I would love to hear how you are infusing more mindfulness in your life.
As always, I am honoured to be part of your awakening.