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Mindfulness: What it is, why, & how to try it out yourself

This post includes thoughts on why we should focus on  mindfulness throughout each and every day.  It will change our perspective and bring us more peace when we need it most.

When I started this post, it fit into my usual structure of “5 things you can do to become more mindful.”  But I then realized that I never explored the why behind it all.

Why should we focus on mindfulness in the first place?  Is there’s any need for us to be intentional about it?  Our minds think whether or not we’re intentionally putting the thoughts in there.  How do we know if we’re intentionally being mindful versus letting our minds run wild?

So let’s start there.  Let’s start by exploring mindfulness at a concept in general before we dive into how we can become more mindful in the every day.

What is it to be mindful?

Being mindful, according to Webster’s, is “being conscious or aware of something.”  And that’s truthfully what we mean in the simplest terms.

It’s not just going throughout your day, letting stimulation come at you.  It’s consciously focusing on stimulation and elements within your day to be able to understand and process what is going on around you.  It’s extra awareness and control over our thoughts to give us a renewed wisdom over our lives.

Why does mindfulness matter?

Almost everyone I’ve worked with, if they haven’t focused on mindfulness regularly prior, thinks that when I say “mindfulness” that I mean “sitting full lotus and saying a lot of ‘oms’ before going into a well-practiced handstand.”

And if that’s you, more power to you!  (I, on the other hand, have still never gotten into a handstand after years of practice.)

But mindfulness, in all of our lives, is about living life like it matters.  Each moment in your days does and will matter.  Mindfulness matters because it’s about recognizing this fact and living out your days with purpose and passion.  It’s about recognizing the purpose of each moment, rather than living your life like it doesn’t matter at all.

You matter.  Each day, each moment in your life matter,  And that’s why mindfulness matters.


How do we know if we’re being mindful?

We know mindfulness is filling our lives when we are living in the present and loving the current moment for what it is.  Our lives are not in the past, our lives are not in the future – our lives are in the here and now.

In general, at least in my life, I know when I’m living a mindful life when I am happy because of the small things.  I’m intentionally thankful for my breathing and ability to consciously think through this moment.  I am moved to joy by the miracle it is that I am alive and able to live out today.  I am grateful for my ability to move and that I am given the opportunity to live out a healthfully – in all aspects of my life.

Note that this does not mean that I don’t have goals or look to achieve more out of my life.  But I know when I am being mindful when I am thankful for where I am right now, and know that I have the strengths necessary to achieve my goals and fulfill my purpose.

Mindfulness also brings our concentration back to the current moment, rather than letting our minds wander where ever they want to go.  This concentrated power leads to greater insights, meaning that you can achieve more in your current moment before simple distractions came your way.

The first step to becoming more mindful

The truth is that the majority of people on this earth do not use their minds to their greatest capacity.  People go about their days, not recognizing the importance of each moment and, rather, let the world overtake their thoughts and actions.

But if you want to be a part of the mindful minority, then it’s easy to do.

I always recommend starting with mindful breathing.  Even experts start this way to get into their practice.

Sit with both feet on the floor and close your eyes for a moment.  The start to focus on your breadth.  Slow down your breathing to focus on your in-breath, and your separate out-breath.

Continue this pattern, allowing yourself to concentrate wholly on your breathing patterns.  Shift your internal dialogue to become “In-breath” and “out-breath.”  And continue this pattern for 10 (or more) breadths.

While this is an incredibly simple exercise, it’s actually changing your mind in a very powerful way.  It’s bring your attention to yourself.  It’s ceasing your mental discourse and allowing you to focus entirely on the present.  It’s a celebration of life and the miracle of the fact that we are alive.

This practice is a simple recognition of your breathing, but it’s an amazing step towards focusing on mindfulness throughout your days.

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