“We can cultivate our well-being by concretely applying mindfulness to our daily living” - Thich Nhat Hanh
What exactly does it mean to live mindfully? According to Webster’s Dictionary, mindful is defined as: “1. Bearing in Mind: aware 2. Inclined to be aware.”
I define being mindful as staying present and being in the here and now. This means being fully aware and awake to everything you do and all that surrounds you. This takes much practice of patience, generosity, joyful effort, discipline and wisdom. One does not have to sit like a Buddha and meditate to practice living mindfully.
How does one cultivate a mindful living practice? Here are just a few ways that I practice mindfulness.
1. Eat Nourishing Food
Nourishing food is the kind of food that makes your tummy hum. When you eat nourishing food, you feel satisfied, not full. Nourishing food is delicious and makes you feel good. If you eat something and it causes your belly to ache, it is not nourishing. If you eat something and it makes you feel like you’ve had too much, it is not nourishing. Find food you enjoy, and make your belly sing.
2. Get a Lot of Rest
Sleep is nectar from the gods. When we get a good night’s sleep, we awaken feeling excited, energized and eager to start our day. If we don’t have enough energy to make it through the day, we can be left feeling unfocused, unmotivated, annoyed or just plain old blah. If we feel like this, how can we live in the present moment?
3. Be Patient
As someone who is highly sensitive and a perfectionist, practicing patience can be quite difficult. In order for us to live mindfully, we need to slow down and really focus on the here and now. Living in NYC, I find everyone is always in a rush. A rush to get where they are going. A rush to get things done quickly. A rush to be at the top of their game. If we race through life never stopping to appreciate all that surrounds us, we are not being fully present. When we are not fully present, we are not fully living.
4. Make Changes Slowly
If you want to make lifestyle changes that will last, you need to do them slowly. It takes about 28 days of doing something consistently to make it stick. If you want to change something in your life, do it slowly. For example, if one of your goals is to practice more yoga, start out by practicing yoga once a week for 28 days. Then increase it to twice a week for 28 days. Once you are consistently practicing yoga twice a week, increase to three times a week. Soon you’ll discover that yoga is now a ritualistic part of your week.
5. Connect to Your Spirit
The more we connect to our spirit, the more grounded we become. According to my guru, our higher self rides on the breath. This means that in order to connect to my spirit, I need to practice breathing. One way I do this is through meditation. When I meditate, I feel a sense of peace and joy. I feel a connection to my spirit, and I am able to focus on the here and now.
6. Question Everything
“A teacher can not give the truth. The truth is already in you. A teacher can only offer you the chance to awaken your true self.” - Thich Nhat Hanh
When we live mindfully, we should question everything. You should even be questioning these words as I write them. The only way to find the truth is to seek it inside you. All the answers are within you.
7. Learn to Let Go
“Wisdom comes with what you let go of, not what you hold onto.” - unknown
If we start to sweat the small stuff, we create anxiety. When we hold on to anxiety, we can never truly learn to live within the moment. Allow yourself to be angry, sad, depressed or lonely. Then allow yourself to let it go. When we hold on to our past too much, we can never truly experience the here and now.
Life is meant to be lived; start living it now!