Maybe you are now required to spend more time at home, like many of us are, and perhaps some of you are away from your loved ones because of the current situation and the way things are now. You have a lot more time on your hands, left to your own devices, and suddenly the day seems to feel long and pointless. You might be spending a lot more screen time on social media platforms watching those TikTok challenges and bingeing on the latest season of Money Heist, wondering what you are going to be doing for the rest of this month. Ask yourself this question — are you aware of what is going through your mind while you are going through your day? Are you being mindful of how you spend your time?
Human beings are creatures of habit, we like the familiar and we get into routines that help to make us feel like we have our lives organized. The thing about the familiar and routines is that they often do not require conscious thinking; it is muscle memory and conditioning and that is comfortable and easy. You work, you have lunch, and you find yourself unable to remember what you had for lunch because you were thinking about that show you watched yesterday while planning for dinner all while having lunch. We talked about ‘monkey brain’ in our last article, about how our brains swing from the past to the future and all the while completely ignoring that essential space in between – the present moment.
When you practice mindfulness, you take note of the present moment and you are here. You are aware of what is happening in your mind and your body, you are in tune with yourself and you are in touch with your reality completely. When you are stressed out and overthinking, practising mindfulness means pulling yourself back to the present moment instead of looking at the ‘what ifs’ that are causing the stress. It means being aware that you are worried about a future that has not happened yet and being aware that worrying is depriving you of the current moment of peace. Mindfulness is focusing on this moment of peace in the present moment.
Why is that more important now than ever?
Not only does practising mindfulness release stress simply by being in the moment, but it also allows you to find beauty in what is otherwise just day to day mundanity. We are so used to our fast-paced lives, with all the digital noise and the different distractions that it is actually difficult to practice mindfulness, connect with ourselves, and just be. It is good for us to take this opportunity to practice mindfulness as the current situation forces us to slow down. Self-isolation might be difficult for many and prolonged isolation has even been found to cause mild mental issues and symptoms of “cabin fever”. That is where mindfulness can come in as a way to beat that feeling of dread.
Let’s try a thought experiment — Imagine that you’re eating now. Instead of scrolling through Instagram or watching a film while doing so, imagine looking into yourself. Think about the taste of what you are eating, how the food feels in your mouth as you are chewing. Now think of how the food is slowly filling you up. Appreciate this moment fully – no distractions.
There you go - a simple exercise in mindfulness that you can easily bring to your daily lives to find the beauty in little things and make this stay-home period, not just tolerable but great. Mindfulness is really a way to harness the power of your brain and mind, and it is empowering to know and realise that you have the ability to redirect mundane or even negative thoughts into productive ones.
As author Sharon Salzberg said, “mindfulness isn’t difficult. We just need to remember to do it.”
Some other ways you can practice mindfulness—
- Mindfulness in conflicts
Check-in with your emotions – what are you feeling? Is there a reason why you are feeling this way – is it because of the immediate conflict, or are you upset about another situation and projecting it onto the current one? Now that you are aware of what you are thinking, is there a better way of managing the conflict?
- Mindfulness during break times when working from home
Find a nice spot where you can look out of your window. Find any form of nature and focus on that – trees, birds, the sky. Look at how the bird is flying and how strong its wings are to carry its weight. Look at how the tree is swaying in the wind and listen to the rustling of the leaves. Let your eyes follow the moving clouds and fully allow yourself to be one with the world. Appreciate that you are part of this nature.