How Do You Become Mindful? You Practice. Here’s How.

Think about what you were just doing, or something you were doing earlier today. Scrolling through the CNN homepage. Driving to work. Eating your lunch. Dressing your toddler. Were you rushing? I’m catching myself in this rush mode often. I try and do things fast a lot of the time. One really great thing mindfulness is teaching me is how to “be there”. If I am watching my son play with his cars on the floor, I’m there. If I am making supper, I’m there. If I am at a coffee shop with a friend, I’m there.

It’s so habitual for me to let my mind wander. I don’t even notice, until I come back to the moment and realize I had been daydreaming or strolling through bunny trails in my head. There are times for imagination and thinking, but not all the time. It’s hardest to be there during moments that are difficult, uncomfortable, boring, or stressful. These are times when our minds want to wander, ruminate, put its’ focus elsewhere. I like to practice being there in these moments because they come more often than not. I’d like to experience these moments just as fully as the more enjoyable ones because they are still important pieces of my life. It’s easy to be mindful while gazing at a setting sun sipping a glass of wine. These moments beckon you to be observant and completely present. My goal, however, is to have mindfulness be a daily habit.

Today I washed my floors, but it was the last thing I felt like doing. What I really wanted to be doing was laying on my bed reading a book and enjoying the quiet during my son’s nap. But sometimes the floors just need to be washed. Instead of rushing through the process and thinking about everything else under the sun, I tried to keep my attention on the job at hand. My mind wandered a thousand times. The great thing about mindfulness, though, is its primary message that this is okay, and actually very normal (if meditation were easy it wouldn’t be a practice). The important part is noticing when you’ve left the present moment and to then bring your attention back. In between my drifting states of attention I was able to appreciate the cool breeze that blew into my bedroom, the way the sunlight poured onto my dining room table, and the millions of hairs that happily clung to my Swiffer sheet. To me, that is success. 

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.”
– Mother Theresa


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