There is no question that I live an active, energetic life. I buzz around, coffee in hand, always ready to complete my next task. I find an alarming amount of joy in multitasking and completely maxing out the hours in a day. But, while I am on a high-speed chase for efficiency and planning the next moment of my day, am I being mindful?
According to the American Psychology Association, mindfulness is the psychological state of awareness. It is the mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and actions. This state of mind has been scientifically linked to many health benefits, a few being reduced rumination, stress reduction and cognitive flexibility.
It sounds very simple – stay calm and present. But as we all know, it is not as easy as sending a snapchat. In every minute of our daily lives, we seem to be bombarded with stimuli. Our technology-obsessed culture is designed to keep us going 24 hours a day, not allowing time for silence or self-awareness. To reap the necessary benefits of being aware and mindful, we have to exercise our mind.
Deepak Chopra, M.D., F.A.C.P., explains that the best way to exercise the mind is through meditation. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine recently confirmed that bringing meditation into daily life will dramatically increase self-awareness. Meditation is an exercise that anyone can practice in order to familiarize oneself with the qualities of being mindful and aware. Just as exercising can make you fit and feel better, consistent meditation can transform your mind and wellbeing. Below are steps you can take to bring the practice of meditation into your life:
1. Understand why
Meditation has an extraordinary amount of benefits. Focus on what your reason is for wanting to start this practice. Nicole Bandes, CEO of The Productivity Expert explains that “being able to refer back to the benefits will help you maintain your willpower.” If you are unclear as to why you are choosing a habit, then it will be harder to maintain.
2. Set a routine
Find time within your daily schedule where you can envision meditation occurring regularly. If you are a morning person, experiment with practicing right when you get up in the morning. Once you find a time that is right for you, make this part of your routine by doing so at time same time each day.
3. Track your progress
Acknowledge the work that you have put towards meditating! A great app (yes, I know it’s technology) to track your daily meditation progress is called Headspace. Not only will it track your progress, it also has guided mediation sessions you can take advantage of.
4. Give yourself a break
Life is busy – when you are running around in the morning to get out the door and miss your mediation session, don’t beat yourself up. According to Elite Daily, it takes about 66 days to form a habit. It is natural to miss a session here or there. Instead of reacting poorly, calmly and gently return to the practice the next day without any personal judgement.
As with any new practice or exercise, it will take time to remain consistent and see the benefits. If you’re feeling frustrated, repeat Maya Angelou’s advice of “when you know better, you do better”.