Why Mindfulness Practice Is Simple But Not Easy In Daily Life
I decided to take a short break on chunking out a huge list of meditation tips and sit back and blog my mind on mindfulness practice (and hopefully being mindful in the process).
I was asked “What Is Mindfulness In One Sentence” in Quora. I gave a simple answer :
“To truly be aware of your thoughts, emotions, and sensations so that you live at the present moment instead of troubled by your past regrets and future worries.”
(I may have a different definition as my journey of mindfulness goes on.)
Even mindfulness meditation is simple. You probably get instructions like
- Close your eyes
- Watch your breath
- If your mind wanders, return to watching your breath
- Do this for 10-15 minutes.
Some readers said it’s hard. Well, things are not easy in the beginning. It takes about 2-3 months of constant practice for a smooth meditation session. Eventually, it gets easier once you got the hang of it.
You thought you have mastered mindfulness.
Then You Bring Mindfulness Into Your Daily Routine…
And you felt like you’ve never meditated before.
Because now you have an element you never dealt with in your meditation (at least not in most practice).
Visual. Seeing. (because you don’t close your eyes in your daily activities)
Remember how you closed your eyes during meditation?
So now you are taking on daily chores with your eye open. Every single object you see is sending thoughts racing before you can shout “mindfulness”. You lay your eyes on a delicious seafood pasta like this,
and you got your mind thinking :
“Wow, I want to have it for tomorrow’s dinner“, “But it’s fattening“. “But I’m craving for it“. “I swear I’ll go on a diet after this” [no you probably won’t]. And whatever left of your mindfulness goes down the drain.
How do you deal with visual distractions when you’ve never practiced on that in meditation? (this gave me a new idea for a blog post).
We Are In A Different State When Not Meditating
When you’re doing proper meditation session, you got to have your meditation incense lighted, essential oils, meditation beads, comfortable meditation cushion and maybe an app like Headspace guiding you into mindfulness.
And you associate with all those tools that “you are doing meditation” and mindfulness becomes natural. Your meditation session is typically free of distraction (except your inner thoughts).
Take all these away and you will feel you’re in a different zone. What sounds like a simple mindfulness instruction (be aware of your thoughts), seems so far at the back of your mind.
You seem to forget how to be mindful. Especially when you are driving, eating, cooking, talking, working, meeting or even when reading a blog like this.
How many times does your mind wanders away when you are reading the last paragraph? Did you crave of foods when I mentioned cooking and eating? Or about the unresolved issues at work you had when I mentioned working and meeting?
See what I mean?
Be As Mindful As You Can.
Forget about watching your breath. That’s what you do in practice but doesn’t work(most of the time) in your daily life.
As for the focusing on “what you see” as a mindfulness object? Forget about it. I can’t imagine walking through a shopping mall mentally calling out “seeing” on every single item I see.
Instead, choose to be aware of your thoughts. Are you tempted by your favorite limited edition shoes? Or how about the new smartphone that’s begging you to swipe your credit card for it?
If you are mindful of your thoughts, you would be avoiding making reckless purchases and getting yourself into unnecessary expenses (or debt).
Watch Your Thoughts Before You Speak
Here’s another simple but not easy mindfulness practice.
The tongue has no bone, but strong enough to break a heart. So be careful with your words.
How many times a have a slip of tongue gets you in trouble? If it takes more than your 10 fingers to keep track or you have a sarcastic tongue like mine, then it’s worth to learn how mindfulness can help keep regrets to the minimum (or save time explaining yourself to your loved ones).
Remember the practice of being aware of your breath, even if sometimes you struggle to feel the slightest sensation? And the never-ending exercise of bringing your monkey mind back to your breathing?
Use what you practiced to watch your thoughts before they form into words. As difficult as it is to be mindful when you are getting an overload of signals from all your senses, it is still easier than mending a broken heart.
Mindfulness Practice Is Simple…
When you know that watching the breathing part is like lifting weights in the gym. You don’t carry the weights to the street. You bring your strength with you. Your strength doesn’t desert you when you are out of the gym.
If you want a further good read on mindfulness practice, I’ll suggest you check out Wherever You Go, There You Are, a highly recommended book by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
(P. S.: If you enjoy reading this post and feel you have friends who can benefit from it, feel free to share with them.)
Over To You :
Have you lived a life buried in your past regrets or ever worrying about problems that may never happen? Or you have tried mindfulness meditation but struggled to bring mindfulness practice into your daily life? Or do you have regrets on how your thoughts often led you into troubles? Have your say here.
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