Getting Connected With the Here and Now
“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” ― Thích Nhất Hạnh,
When we hear the term “Mindfulness”, it’s tempting to write it off straight away as a buzzword or passing fad. That may be because the term is often used incorrectly or in a way that doesn’t make much sense. I certainly know when I ask my partner to be more “mindful”, it can be met with an eye-roll or blank stare.
So what is mindful living?
Mindful living is taking the principles of mindfulness practice, and applying them to daily life. Mindfulness has been defined in many ways, but one that capture it nicely is Jon Kabat-Zinn’s definition: “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment”.
So why pay attention?
Because we have caveman brains that get hijacked all too easily by primitive reflexes. As human beings, we’re designed to survive and we still rely on a very basic system that responds in milliseconds to any perceived danger or threat to our survival. Whilst we've evolved somewhat and developed a more rational and sophisticated part of our brain that regulates our responses, when something goes wrong our caveman brain takes over.
This means that we often react rather than respond, and end up doing things based on emotions, such as fear, shame or sadness. This can lead to us doing things that we regret later, or that just aren’t that effective. A classic example is calling your ex seven times when you’ve just broken up. You’re 100% going with your emotions there. And if you paused to consider the consequences of doing this or how you might feel afterwards, chances are you'd probably reconsider.
What does mindful living actually look like?
Mindful living means adopting the principles of mindfulness mediation into our daily lives. It sounds complicated, but mindful living is simple…it involves pausing, observing, noticing, being non-judgmental, checking in with your senses and becoming connected with the present moment. It is being gentle, kind and curious. But what does this look like in practice…
Here are some tips for putting mindful living into practice:
> Stop to notice how you are feeling in the moment. Ask yourself, what do I need right now? Often we’re in need of a little kindness to nourish or support ourselves. This could involve stepping away from your desk to make yourself a cup of tea or going outside into the sunshine to breathe the fresh air.
> Check in with your thoughts and what you are telling yourself in that moment. Notice when you're jumping to conclusions or imaging the worst outcome. Breathe… your boss isn’t going to fire you for printing the wrong document.
> Check in with your body - Am I sitting in a tense position and do I need to relax? Your body and mind are in constant communication, so changing your body posture will change how you feel (Check out Amy Cuddy on Power Posing).
> Pause before responding to difficult situations. Stop to ask yourself, “What do I want the outcome to be here and what’s the best way of doing that?” It can help to describe the facts of a situation, think about what’s going to work for you, and what the long term consequences are of your actions. It is important to do this, so that you can work out If you’re stuck in an emotion and you are reacting, rather than choosing to respond effectively.
> And most importantly, it’s stopping to smell the roses. Noticing the sunshine on your face, the breeze on your skin. Pausing to notice the gratitude you feel for the people you love and those that love you. Allowing yourself to feel connected in this moment.
With Warmth, K & A xx