Categories: Gettin The Mind Right

7 Tips to Become More Mindful

Happy Monday!

I’ve been doing my best to practice being more mindful. It’s not easy and I have lots to work on, but after all it is about progress, not perfection.

In the past, I’ve made the mistake of thinking that just because I practiced meditation or being mindful that I should be monk-like, and not have my mind wander all over the place and not get annoyed by otherwise meaningless issues/events. Kind of like the person who hasn’t worked out in years but expects to be 7% body fat because they worked out for 2 months—not practical.

I’ve learned that being mindful is a practice like anything else.  It’s not something you “get” once and then are good for the rest of your life. It’s something you get better at only with concious effort and must expect to work at, always.

 

7 Simple Tools to Help You Become More Mindful

These tools have worked well for me; see if you can’t incorporate some or all of them to help you become more mindful:

 

1). When I find myself getting annoyed, I ask myself – ‘Is this useful for me?’

 

2). Become more mindful of mindlessly picking up my phone and defaulting to social media or ESPN. Instead, I keep my phone out of sight for a set time so I can focus on the task at hand OR focus on just being present.

 

3). Utilize downtime (eating lunch or waiting for something) to read a few pages in a book rather than scroll through phone. I suppose the Buddha way would be to eat in silence and just focus on your food, but I’m not there yet!

 

4). Spend at least 5 minutes outside everyday, zoning out on nature. In doing this, I’ve become obsessed with the sky. In the past I use to do gratitude journaling, which I believe is good and helpful, but I sometimes felt forced to write things down. But if you really focus on nature—the grass, trees, sky, and animals—there is nothing forced about the experience; it’s just purely enjoyable..

 

5). Focus on the surroundings as I drive. This might sound like nothing, but next time you get in the car really focus on gripping your wheel, focusing on as many details as you can in your line of sight.

 

6.) Spend at least 5 minutes a day meditating. This takes different forms. On days I coach, I’m up at 4:45 am and coach two classes, then have an hour break. I like to use that break to go to the beach, lay on the life guard chair with no phone in sight (just an alarm so I get back to class on time) and focus on the sound of the waves. Other times I sit upright and count my breaths.

To me, any deviation away from technology where you are focused on quieting the mind is meditation. Don’t feel like you have to follow a text book; rather, find what calms you. As in Tip #4, you can use your meditation time outdoors; eyes closed, silent, just breathing the fresh air. You’ll find it very calming and centering.

 

7). Remember that I am impermanent and have a limited time here to live my best life. The thought of impermanence may seem pessimistic but I don’t view it that way. If I am strong enough in the moment of fear or anxiety to realize that whatever is causing these feelings means nothing in the grand scheme of the world, I’m able to become more present in the moment.

It’s like the famous quote, of which I’ve read different variations from different brilliant minds but which basically says, ‘Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a fantasy, today is a gift which is why we call this current moment the present.’

 

I must state again that I am no monk. My often let my monkey brain wander and focus on perceptions & stories, rather than carefully observing what is real.  What I do know is everything I mentioned here works; it has made me better today than I was yesterday…which is all any of us could ever ask.

Today I ask of you, what do you have to lose by implementing one or more of these tools each day?

#mondaymelt
#meltmindset

JC

P.S.  We soon are closing registration for the upcoming Weekend Warrior Retreat, October 5-7. If you are interested in joining this weekend away to become more mindful and immerse yourself in all things that increase your health & happiness, let us know ASAP!

 

ILLUSTRATION BY: University Health Service – U of Michigan

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