Mindfulness is a practice that involves always being present, understanding and appreciating the current moment, then continuing to live without judgment or guilt. It works for a variety of different reasons, from being mindful when you eat, to practicing mindfulness to help with stress and anxiety.
When you first start mindfulness, you allow any thoughts come in to your mind, but it does help if you can learn how to minimize your focus to just one thought at a time. Here are some tips for doing that.
Finding a Single Focus
The first part of working on mindfulness is to find a single focus, instead of just letting a flow of thoughts all come in at once.
Why is this helpful?
Mindfulness is similar to meditation, in that you are really trying to re-focus your mind to find peace and accept things as they are. You are letting all your stresses and worries float away as you try to embrace a sense of calm. This isn’t as easy as it seems in the beginning, so one way to help you be more mindful of the present is to pick just one thing to focus on.
Being mindful is all about accepting your emotions, feelings, and circumstances in this moment only. Don’t worry about the future or stress about the past. Just live in the moment.
Here is a quick exercise for you:
Choose one thing that you can feel right now. It can be a muscle in your body, a sensation you feel in the room, or even a strong emotion you have. Choose one thing and focus on it. Here are some examples:
Listen to the fan in the room and focus on that sound.
Take a bite of your meal, but really focus on each individual flavor and the feeling on your tongue.
Pick a body part and feel the warmness and other sensations.
Try to do this every day for a few days, focusing on one thing and seeing how many more details you can come up with. This is the beginning stage of being more mindful.
Eating Without Distractions
This is a really good practice when you are first starting out with a single focus in mindfulness. All you need to do is be mindful when you eat, but focus only on the food.
You don’t need to stick to any strict rules, in fact, that is easier when you are not on a diet. This is closer to intuitive eating, where you just listen to your body for when you are hungry and what you feel like eating.
Keep the following things in mind when you start mindful eating:
Eat anything you want – To start with, don’t worry too much about what you are eating, but how. Choose your favorite meal or snack so you aren’t stressing with it being ‘healthy enough’. You just want to focus on eating and get used to eating without having outside distractions.
Sit in a quiet place without distractions – This might be hard for you as many people eat in the front of the TV or while using their cell phone. But this is the biggest problem – to eat mindfully, you need to focus only on the food and nothing else. Sit in your office with the door closed, at a dining table, or anywhere else you will get a few minutes of peace and quiet. Turn off the TV and your cell phone.
Embrace every sensation – Begin by using all your senses during your meal. Look at the colors of your food, taste each flavor on your tongue, and smell the food. Feel the sensations of the food in your mouth, such as temperature and texture.
By doing this, you are enjoying your food to the fullest and are not rushing through yet another activity in your life.
Mindfulness is a Practice
If you only learn one thing it should be this – mindfulness is called a practice for a reason. It is not something everyone learns right away, in fact most people don’t get it immediately. It is not quite as intensive and meditation, but it is a similar concept. The main difference is that you allow all those thoughts when you are being mindful, but you need to accept them, and let them go without judgment.
Start being more mindful every day, starting with mindful eating, and really try to focus on just one thought or concern at a time. This is what will help you the most on your journey to be a more mindful person.