In such a busy world, mindfulness is becoming one of the most effective techniques for attaining inner peace and happiness.
Mindfulness originated from Buddhism, however, being mindful is a skill that anyone can learn. You do not have to be spiritual, or have any particular beliefs, to try it. Only of recent years has it become increasingly popular in Western culture.
Like all skills, or arts, the more you practice the better you become at it. Below we’ll go through 5 tips to help you practice mindfulness, and start your journey to a more peaceful and happy lifestyle.
This I will assume you’ve of heard of before, but meditation can be easily practiced with little to no mentoring or tutoring. All you need is a spare 10-20 minutes a day in a quiet place.
Simply sit in silence and focus on your own breathing, pay attention to the sensations within your body as you breathe, and when your mind drifts – which it will – calmly bring your thought back to your breathing.
The more you practice the better you will get, you’ll begin to feel the benefits after just a few sessions but most programmes recommend regular meditation over 8-weeks for the best results.
You can get some good podcasts to aid you if preferred, check out this Mindfulness in 8 Weeks: 20 Minutes a Day Program.
2. Be Kind to Yourself
We can be awfully harsh on ourselves sometimes, there is so much demand and pressure in today’s world that its very easy to get swept away and consumed by feelings of need and want.
It’s OK to be the way you are and you need to start convincing yourself of that too. Because in a world where consumerism is pushed onto you, you’re convinced regularly that you need to live a certain way and own certain things, this can really cause a feeling of unhappiness and fatigue to brew over time.
Quite simply, be aware of how you’re perceiving yourself and make a conscious effort to allow the harsh, critical thoughts to calmly float out of your mind. Think kindly about yourself as you would do a loved one. Often bad moods are caused by silly little things that are allowed to spiral out of control, and by taking back control of self-appreciation you’ll find your mood gradually return to a positive, peaceful place.
3. Go Outside, Enjoy Nature
Sometimes for those who suffer with mental health issues it can be hard to make the effort to go outdoors, but studies have shown that by connecting with nature our levels of anxiety, stress and depression significantly reduce.
It’s almost like a built-in tool for dealing with the difficulties the world throws your way, a return to our roots (no pun intended!). You don’t need to make a grand hike out of it, a small walk in the park or around the garden – sun, rain, wind or snow – can help you achieve a feeling of happiness.
A study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, found that people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area, as opposed to participants who walked in an urban setting, showed decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with a key factor in depression.
Scientists call it ‘Ecotherapy’, but I like to think it’s just us reconnecting to that which we’ve come from, Mother Earth.
4. Live in the Moment
Focus on the tasks you’re doing. Perhaps you’re washing the dishes, drinking a cup of tea or cooking a meal. Everyday tasks which we usually zone out and go on autopilot mode for, try to make an effort to experience what you’re doing.
If you’re drinking a cup of tea, start with inhaling the aromas, take a look at its colour, take a sip and try to focus on the flavours and how it tastes, pause and enjoy it, and if your mind wonders gently escort it back to the tea. Chances are you’ve appreciated it a lot more than if you had gulped it down! This how life should be experienced, and it’s a brilliant form of easily accessed meditation too.
The same can be said about any daily task, just because you carry them out on a regular basis doesn’t mean you shouldn’t appreciate it. In fact, it’s likely that the tasks you do most often, are the ones you appreciate the least. Try to change that around by living in the moment more often.
5. Practice Compassion
Learning how to be compassionate and loving to those around us, even strangers, is one of the most rewarding habits you can form. It’ll fill your mind with good thoughts and feelings, and when you come to practising mindfulness you’ll have a lot of positive vibes to reflect on.
Compassion, unfortunately, can be one of the hardest of all to practice for some, as it can often need a real shift in self-awareness too, but it’s guaranteed to help you find inner peace and happiness. Simply by having compassion at the forefront of your mind is the first step in the right direction down a long, rewarding pathway.
Maybe you’ve got a friend who’s going through a bit of a tough time at the moment? If so, reach out to that person and put a smile on his/her face. What might seem little to you, could mean a lot to someone else.
Below is a quote from Dalai Lama which I like to remind myself of regularly:
“Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek.”
– Dalai Lama XIV
Individually, these steps might not seem like a big change in lifestyle, however, if practiced regularly and together, they can have a profound change on your life, and others too.
Stay happy, stay mindful