Live in the moment.
How you can effectively change your everyday life through mindfulness and start afresh.
Mindfulness. Is it something you believe in or are you irritated by all the hype? By all the selfies of beautiful young women in a perfect lotus position, by the super smart sayings and the kitschy photos of nature? Understood. But... Mindfulness can help you cope with our fast-moving times. Relieve stress. Gain new energy. You don't need to be a Buddhist monk for all this or document everything on Instagram or take on similar ways of living. You can simply integrate it into your daily life. And stay just as you are. Because mindfulness is nothing more than becoming aware of the moment and consciously enjoying it.
Multi-tasking is all well and good. But why not think about how your little toe feels. Or listen to the birds singing. Chew an apple, bite by bite. And don't do a thousand other things at the same time like telephoning, cleaning, ironing or taking selfies. Take your time. Take time for yourself. And for everything that does you good.
By the way, mindfulness is different from concentration. When we concentrate, we narrow our view but with mindfulness, we open up. We open up our awareness to everything. And what is the point of it? The biggest health risks of the 21st century include stress, anxieties and distressing feelings. Our everyday life is more stressful than it ever used to be. This often leads to burnout or even to depression. We need to become aware of the body's warning signals: am I exhausted, listless, in a bad mood? The best thing to do is to take preventive steps to ensure our well-being. And make sure we create plenty of moments in our everyday lives when we can breathe in deeply and then start afresh. Here are a few simple tricks:
1. Direct yourself towards things that do you good
What people, projects, activities do you good? Develop an awareness for just that. Turn towards things that feel positive, invigorating and joyful. And if you cannot avoid annoying and energy-sapping activities, don't approach them with resistance but with a certain calmness.
2. Be mindful in your breathing
I breathe in. I breathe out. Be conscious of your breathing. It is as easy as it sounds – even when we need to repeatedly gently capture our thoughts when we are doing it. Keep at it: I breathe in. I breathe out. You can follow your breath as you do this, how it rises up and down in your body. In this way, you can trick yourself a little and your mindfulness remains with your breathing. As you practise this, you will find that other thoughts fall silent more quickly and for longer: what you need to do or not, what annoys us, what worries us a little.
3. Be mindful in your walking
This is also possible. Do what you do anyway: breathe and walk. Breathe and walk. Breathe and walk. This mindfulness practice is simple and effective. From stretching at the workplace or when you go to work or return from work to when you go shopping or to a café – stay connected to your breath and take each step deliberately. Find out what the right tempo is for you. And enjoy the feeling of inner peace and calm that returns to you.
4. Be mindful on your journeys
How often do we travel on buses and trains, in cars or planes or ride a bike – a thousand opportunities to practise mindfulness. A positive side effect is that you don't get annoyed about possible delays or how much longer the journey is going to take. On the contrary, you are happy about the moment of inner calm that you create. Here's how to do it. How does it feel to sit in a seat or on a saddle? What do you feel in your hands? Do you feel the vibration during the journey? What noises are you aware of? And is the light different from yesterday?
5. Be mindful in your eating
Bolting it down, smacking your lips, chatting and blabbing. How often do you actually chew? The less we really savour our food when we are in a hurry, the less we really enjoy our lives. Take food seriously. It keeps us alive after all. Eat mindfully and be aware of what you are eating. Of the shape, the colour, the weight, the smell, the consistency, the flavour – the pleasure in eating it. And if you want to take it further, where does the food come from? What is actually in it? How was it harvested and prepared? The result: inner peace and a satisfied feeling of well-being.
6. Be mindful when you take a shower
Take a shower. Just take a shower. Don't wonder whether you are going to catch the bus or how the meeting will go. Be mindful when you take a shower: be aware of how the initially dry floor feels under your feet. Is it warm or cold? How does the water splash, how does it flow over your body, run off, mix with the shower gel, how is it washed away? How pleasant does the now wet floor feel? And how good do you feel after this refreshing shower with moments just for you?
7. Be mindful when listening
Talk less, listen more. This is a formula that prevents stress at work. Why? If we only listen to what our conversation partner is saying because we are already perfecting our counterarguments, we may not understand the point the other person is making. This often leads to misunderstandings and friction. Communicate mindfully: get used to listening attentively. That means letting the other person talk until he stops talking of his own accord. Make an effort to really listen. Find out what is really important for your boss or your colleague. If you have really understood this, your resentment will vanish.
8. Switch out of autopilot
We all know situations that bring us from zero to one hundred in next to no time. Pure stress. Get yourself out of the situation and switch out of autopilot. As soon as you notice heated emotions, furious thoughts or angry emotions, just stop, collect your thoughts, treat yourself to a few calming breaths or if possible, leave the situation.
9. Changing focus
Do you also have days when you think everyone and everything is against you? You feel ignored, misunderstood, hurt. Change your focus and instead assume that everyone is well-disposed towards you, either privately or professionally. Assume that everyone wants the best for you. Even fate. And in the evening look back with pleasure on what has changed by taking this view.
10. Don't leave anything behind
Leave every place as you found it. If anything falls on the floor, pick it up straightaway. If you have used any crockery, wash it up straightaway. What has that got to do with mindfulness? One effect is that everything stays tidier and you don't carelessly make any room dirty. This external order also helps you to be clearer and more aware internally. You also demonstrate to yourself what effect you have on your environment. And when you breathe in deeply, this is a good basis for a new start and to do everything that makes you feel good.
One more tip to finish: start carefully. And practise. Patience, persistence and a good dose of humour are reliable companions on your journey to integrate mindfulness into your (professional) life.