Are You Living Mindfully or Mindlessly?
Have you ever been dealing with a situation in your life and felt as though you were not participating in that situation from a reactive place, but we’re able to look at the situation watching from the outside without judgment or reactivity? That is Mindfulness.
We live in a fast-paced world—we seem to do everything in a thoughtless rush. We get up in the morning in a daze, we shower in a hurry, we brave traffic, and we arrive at work in a mindless haze. Most of us work jobs we are not passionate about. Some days we work hard … some days, we coast through, waiting for the day to end. We don’t take the time to pursue our career or personal goals. Why? Because we just can’t find the time. We put in a day’s work, we clock out, and we commute home, exhausted. We do this for five days or more—and then we collapse into our weekend. Saturdays disappear as we cook, clean, do the laundry, and catch up with family routines and responsibilities. Finally, we embrace Sunday as the one day of the week we can relax and rejuvenate. By Sunday evening, we’re preparing to face the week ahead.
We live our lives mindlessly, using the food we eat, our entertainment, and our relationships to distract us from taking care of our minds and bodies. We fuel ourselves with cups of coffee “to keep us alert” and feed our families unhealthy food and sugary, carbonated beverages that are convenient but harmful. We know that ideally, a well-rounded lifestyle should consist of balanced nutrition, a healthy diet and exercise, the pursuit of hobbies and passions, meaningful interaction with family, and investing time in healthy relationships. Last but not least is that crucial component we often overlook in our crazy-busy lives: proper, restful sleep.
But despite our best intentions, few of us live this healthy, balanced lifestyle. Our hectic lives leave us feeling helpless, uninspired, and overwhelmed. Are we really, truly living? For those happy few who approach life with “mindful awareness,” the answer is “No.” The truth is that the standard modern lifestyle is mindless.
When was the last time you admired a sunrise? Listened to the birds chirping on your way to work? Stopped to appreciate the beauty of the flowers growing in your neighbor’s garden? When was the last time you thought about your life and smiled? These are questions you need to ask every day. Do you want to answer “Yes?” Imagine how your life could change if you welcomed present-mindedness and gratitude into your everyday reality.
Wanting more is not a bad thing. When we take positive action for the right reasons, we see positive results. When we don’t apply a proactive attitude toward something we want to improve, our lives become increasingly unbalanced—and positive change rarely occurs. If we lack symmetry in any area of our life by acknowledging it, applying conscious effort, and managing our time well, our desire for change can bring balance and help us experience life with more joy.
Excerpt from Harmony, IndiGrowth Health & Wellness’ Workbook for Creating a More Balanced Life in an Out of Balance World
What is Mindfulness
Mindfulness, or, being mindful, can help to bring clarity, a sense of well-being, control, and ultimately, inner contentment to a person’s life. Typically, our minds work like machines—they work 24/7. We are in constant motion, thinking, feeling, flitting from one thought to another: from one task to the next … endlessly. As a result, our minds are tired, dull, and slow. Noisy thoughts and negative emotions cloud our thinking; we end up a hot mess. Edgy and upset for no reason, anger creeps in, and if we are angry, there is no room for happiness.
Awareness may peek through our chaotic emotions from time to time, but our negative thoughts overwhelm us and cloud our clarity. This is when we need to practice mindfulness, for where there is mindfulness, there is peace, calm, and joy. We are aware of what is happening. This awareness helps us shed negative thoughts, and our minds find balance in the present moment.
Being mindful—finding peace—doesn’t mean you need to meditate for hours. Being aware will not eliminate your problems or make you unable to feel painful emotions. But it will ground you, help you tap into your inner knowing, and help you understand the reasons you think the way you do. Being mindful will help you make peace with your past, discover who you are at your core, and give you the skills you need to improve your relationships.
Mindfulness doesn’t take a lot of effort. You can practice it while traveling to work, sitting on a bus, or even at your desk. All you need to do is, be ‘AWARE.’ Where are you? What are you doing? Allow your five senses to take in everything around you—see, hear, feel, touch, and taste the world around you in a playful way. Be childlike—engage with the world joyfully. We are all born with the ability to embrace happiness and joy. As children, many of us adopted this quickly and naturally. For many of us, our joy has been lost along our journey. If you want to live mindfully, ignite your passion and purpose, and pursue an insightful, uplifting, and enjoyable life, then try slowing down and focusing on what you are doing in the present moment. There is no right or wrong way to practice being mindful. The only thing you are trying to do is be present in the specific moment you are living without focusing on the past or worrying about the future. One of the most helpful things that I realized about practicing being mindful is, It takes practice. That’s why it is called, the practice of mindfulness.
Do you want to reclaim, restore, revitalize, and reinvent your life? You can do many things to create a healthier, happier lifestyle, but what works for one may not work for another. One thing that will help is to try and create