The practice of mindfulness encompasses the idea of living in the present moment and being acutely aware of your surroundings and focusing on things that matter. This involves taking control of how you view the world through observations of your surroundings and in turn how those observations create emotions that drive behaviors. While experiencing emotions through observation of the world is important, practicing mindfulness aids in directing actions. Here are some steps to successfully practicing the art of mindfulness.
Live in the Present
People commonly get so hung up on past events that it negatively affects their present state of being. Being mindful is realizing that there is no changing the past and it is best to intentionally focus on the present. While it is good to reflect on the past to take lessons away from mistakes, it is more important to apply those lessons moving forward.
However, it is equally important to not get caught up in the future. Letting worries about the future affect your feelings or actions at the present time is not an effective way to appreciate the moment. Planning for the future is important, but always remember that the present moment is the most cherished.
It is also important to not hold on tight to positive emotions. Living in the moment does not necessarily mean that the moment is great, as everyone will have bad experiences throughout their lifetime. Appreciate positive moments without fearing their ending and do not compare current positive moments to past joyful events, as the current positivity may be overshadowed.
Make a conscious effort to focus only on things that are positive to think about. While it may be tempting to let your mind wander to the troubles in your life, consciously redirect your thoughts to the present moment and to things you have full control over. Be sure to also pay attention to your actions. Your actions and reactions to situations help to define your triggers, so it is important to be conscious of everything you do and say based on how you respond to the triggers in life.
Part of paying attention to your actions is to give them a purpose. Realize and appreciate your reasoning for acting and thinking as you do, and make sure it is constructive and beneficial to your life. Knowing the well-meaning purpose behind every action you take is an important element of mindfulness. When you view your nutrition, as an example, it is important to be mindful of “what you are eating” but also, and most importantly the “why of what you are eating.” Paying attention and being intentional are significant steps in healthy nutrition alignments.
Lighten up the Judgment
During the practice of mindfulness, you will find that you become more aware of your surroundings and may notice things that you previously would have missed. While observation is crucial, the act of judging what you see is not beneficial to your wellbeing.
It is important to be objective when observing situations, realizing that you may not have complete information or you may not have ever been in the shoes of the other person. ”There go I” is a good self talk, to keep it all balanced. Most assuredly, you might be in a similar situation at some point down the line yourself. Would you be as hard on you, if that were you…then?
Practicing empathy is much more effective for us than establishing blame. If you are versed at practicing mindfulness, judgments will occur less and you may find yourself feeling better about things in general, as you are not so amped up about all the wrong out there.
Do not shun away emotions. Everyone experiences a wide range of emotions, but the important thing to remember is that they are always temporary. Emotions can be unpredictable, and you cannot always control how you feel. For this reason, it is crucial to accept your current emotions, realize they will pass, and not try to hold onto them when it is time to let go. Emotions create “triggers” which typically lead us down a negative path, usually in nutrition, which then makes us feel worse, creating a cycle of negative actions and emotions directed at ourselves.
Putting it All Together
Being mindful with your nutrition will help you uncover the key “triggers” that may drive you to less than healthy choices as you resolve to make changes this year. Once you identify triggers it is easier to have a defensive strategy when they come knocking. They always come knocking, so best bet is to be prepared.
You may also realize 1 of 3 things: 1.) I am doing a really good job; 2.) I thought I was doing a good job, but in reality, not so much. 3.) I had no idea how far off the reservation I had traversed.
Being mindfully across the many fronts of life, is key to a healthier, happier, and longer life.
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