According to the Oxford dictionary mindful refers to “taking thought or care of.” What exactly does it mean? In many magazines there are articles written about it; life coaches tell people to be more mindful when they are working, eating, communicating, socializing and even when they are stressing!
So, let’s explore! Being mindful refers to being present, being in the now, and being aware of your thoughts and actions. Mindfulness is when you focus on your actions, words and thoughts. For example, instead of eating and watching television at the same time, sit down around the dining room table and enjoy the meal. Be aware of what you eat, what it tastes like, smells like and, if you are with others, enjoy being together, sharing a meal.
Being in the now (in the present) is another way to look at mindfulness. When you are in the now or present in the moment, you are aware of your thoughts, words, actions and that of the other person(s). There is no hanging on the past or worrying about the future. You are fully present in today; in the moment.
Not easy but worth a try! When you are present and aware, you start to see and appreciate people and things more; you build strong relationships (both with yourself and with family, friends and colleagues), and most of all, you “see and enjoy” nature and life! In today’s world, where many people are rushed, stressed, tired and/or overworked, it is not easy to savour a moment and just “be,” because our minds race back into the past (where regrets live) or into the future (where worries / stress reside).
When you are in the now, you savour each moment and enjoy everything you see and/or hear (like the birds singing or a beautiful flower). This causes your body to respond by excreting serotonin (happy hormones) and your mind start to practice being fully present in a moment. When you worry about things gone by or about things that did not yet happen, you start to over-analyse, stress and worry, and stop enjoying the moment, the surroundings, the people, and so forth.
How do one go about being more mindful? Well, as the word implies; it all starts in your mind. When you change your thoughts and thought-patterns everything around you start to change and your perception of a situation / person changes as well. Think of energy: like attracts like; negative attracts negative. In order to change the outside (your perspective on life, your reactions to situations / people and your overall view of everything and everyone), you need to change the inside. A well-known speaker and author, Suzie Orman said: “Your thoughts create your feelings, your feelings create your words, your words create your actions, and your actions create your destiny!”
Start with baby-steps. Take a deep breath in and zoom in on the task at hand / the place you are in at the moment and stop your thoughts from running away. What is done, is done and what hasn’t been done yet, will still be done. There is time. Focus on what needs to be done now and it’ll be done faster and without the unnecessary stress. Many psychologists and teachers believe that minimal stress can be good, but overstressing, overanalysing, worrying, and so forth, are not. In fact, many believe that negative emotions, feelings and words, are fear-driven and stems from our ego’s. When we can get the ego out of the way (as it were), then we can say, do and be in the present more mindfully and more cheerfully. When there is lots to do, make a list and prioritize what must be done first. Then tick it off the list once it has been done. This will help you to stay focused and it’ll keep you more relaxed; knowing that things are getting done.
Sometimes things can get too much and we often find ourselves not knowing where to start. Watch your thoughts! Instead of saying “I’m overwhelmed, I’m so tired, I’m so stressed,” and so forth, stop and change it immediately. We are not just flesh and bones, but have emotions, a spirit and a soul as well. Whatever you constantly say to yourself, will be picked up by the body and the physical outcome(s) – in the beforementioned examples – will be tiredness, stress, quick temperedness, and even depression. Many illnesses like colds, flu and cancers, stem from being overstressed, overworked and wanting to do too many things at a time.
If you find it difficult, write a positive statement on a piece of paper and stick it somewhere where you will see it. For example, “Today I choose to be happy and healthy” or “Today I have the energy to finish all my tasks” or “I am full of energy and I choose to see the positive in everything and everyone.”
Another tip to help you get through all your workload is to delegate. At home, for example, you can work together as a team, each member having a certain task(s) to do in and around the house. At work, if you cannot delegate, stick with a to do-list and prioritize what has to be done first. Stay focused, check your thoughts, be aware of what you think and feel, and deep breathes. Using a dairy or a calendar can make life much easier and help you to stay focused on your to do-lists.
All in all, mindfulness should not be seen as something that only some people can achieve. Anybody and everybody can change their perspective, thus changing the outcome. All you need to do is make a conscious decision and then do it! We are never too young or too old to start being in the present and to stop worrying about what is past and what is future. It is only the now that counts. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not yet here….so why worry?
Be mindful, be aware, be present, be in the now, and savour every minute of every day. As my granddad used to say: “If you worry you die, if you don’t worry you might also die. So why worry?”
By: Ezette Viljoen (Health & Fitness Editor)