You probably know how this goes. Your significant other, children, or boss ask, “What did you do all day?” and you just don’t remember. And if you don’t remember what happened today, then remembering what happened yesterday is out of the question.
Do you ever wonder why? No, you don’t have Alzheimer’s or dementia. You have, in a sense, been living life unconsciously. When we are on autopilot doing things mindlessly, we do not remember what we do because we aren’t present. We multitask and are distracted by emails, text messages, and social media, to name a few. Most of us take pride that we can do so many things at once, but sadly, we are not present and mindful of any of those things. Many people in our present-day society are living without thinking, without being fully conscious in the awake state where we are in full awareness of ourselves and our environment.
What is This Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a moment-by-moment practice of being intensely and fully aware, focused, and present. When we are fully conscious of our thoughts, emotions, reactions, motivations, our breathing, the sensations in our bodies, the sights and sounds in our environment, then we are aware of everything about us at any given moment.
Generally speaking, being mindful is practicing to tune in, not out. We use our senses to experience life personally, professionally, and spiritually, and to be focused and able to concentrate in the moment. When we are less driven by habits and reactions, we have the ability to recognize and release unnecessary distractions as they arise. The essence of mindfulness is when we can receive information, pay attention to the here and now, and not try to change what is happening in the moment.
“The essence of mindfulness is when we can receive information, pay attention to the here and now, and not try to change what is happening in the moment.”
When we are personally mindful, we feel more connected to our core self. We feel better understood, cared for, supported, and loved by our family and friends. We are able to appropriately and effectively process information given to us with impulse control, less anxiety, fears, anger, excessive worry, and depression. When we stay in the present and can see and hear our partners and children, we create an environment where individuals and relationships can flourish.
It is important to be mindful to our physical being. We are proactive when warning signs or symptoms of aches and pains first emerge. We don’t wait until the alarm goes off when our body is screaming to pay attention to ourselves. By that time, our backs may have gone out on us, we may have been diagnosed with cancer or another immune or physical disorder that we now HAVE to pay attention to.
When we are professionally mindful, we have the ability to concentrate and focus on tasks and be more effective with office mates, employees, and customers. When we are mindful and present with our employees, they are happier, loyal, more effective, efficiently work to their potential, and are more productive.
When we are spiritually mindful, for some of us it may mean that we listen to our inner voice or core self about what we want and need in the world. We may feel at peace because we feel part of a universal energy or a religious practice. We may feel awaken spiritually and may call this enlightenment. Enlightenment can be called the highest spiritual state a human can attain, the freedom of suffering, nirvana, bliss or a permanent state of joy. Enlightenment could be called spiritual wellness.
“When we are mindful personally, professionally, and spiritually, we are in the present and are living happier, healthier, and more productive lives.”
Being mindful spiritually can give us purpose and feeling of belonging in the world. It helps keep us from feeling alone, depressed, having suicidal thoughts, and feeling despair.
Seven Things You Can Do During Your Day to Be More Present and Mindful:
Start your day getting present and focused. Take a few minutes to breathe through your nose and feel the sensation of the breath going into your nose moving past the cilia up your nasal passages, down your windpipe to your lungs. Picture your breath moving into your lungs and expanding and deflating them.
Pay attention and listen to what your body is telling you throughout the day (close your eyes and go inside and notice what sensations you physically feel).
Pay attention to what you are eating. Savor the taste, smell, and texture.
Take the time to stay in the moment and deal with the tasks at hand. So you are not thrown off of your priorities, set aside specific time to check emails, messages, or deal with social media.
Listen and pay attention to who you are talking to, and let them know you are seeing and hearing them.
Breathe and get present when feeling scattered, or when you need to get focused before talking to someone, starting a project, or going into a meeting.
When you are in your car, turn off the radio and don’t talk on the phone. Take the time to pay attention to your breathe and notice your surroundings (the sky, nature etc.).
When we are mindful personally, professionally, and spiritually, we are in the present and are living happier, healthier, and more productive lives. Yesterday has already passed, tomorrow isn’t here yet, so let’s make the most of today.