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A Step-By-Step Guide To Achieving Mindfulness

A Step-By-Step Guide To Achieving Mindfulness

Mindfulness is all about an appreciation for the present moment, examining who we are, and cultivating a sense of unity with ourselves and the world around us. Many try to adopt a mindful lifestyle in order to reduce stress and maintain a sense of self and peace amidst a busy and hectic schedule.

By introducing some practices and routines into your life, you can improve your awareness and get into the habit of understanding your own mind and how it influences your perceptions and actions. Here are a few of the practices that you should consider picking up.

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Practice Yoga

Yoga is a great practice for slowing down and turning inside yourself. This is why focusing on the breath is such an important element, as it brings our attention to what is happening in the moment, and away from all the other distractions in life. Try a new yoga pose every day to bring new energy and awareness to different parts of your body, while also focusing on the body as a whole. You can also use these techniques to help cope with uncomfortable sensations during challenging positions.

Practicing mindfulness on the mat will make it easier for this state of mind to start flowing into other activities. As a result, distractions and conflicts in life will become easier to overcome.

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Turn Chores Into Rituals

Daily tasks that we often think of as mundane can become dreaded chores or burdens. While cleaning the house or doing yard work, we try to escape those present moments by thinking of what we’d rather be doing or like to do later. Instead, these tasks should be treated more ritualistically.

When scrubbing, sweeping, or dusting, focus on the repetitive, rhythmic motion of your hands. Also, be attentive to the results of your actions and take joy in watching the dirt, dust, and debri lift due to your efforts. Happiness is always available in our lives, practice finding it in these conditions.

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Take In Life’s Details

Take time to recognize all the beauty or details in the present moment, and try to do this daily. If you go on a walk, don’t immediately plug in your earbuds and power walk down the street. Take notice of all the colors of leaves during fall, and how the sun hits them, or the new buds and blooms during spring. Feel the cool or warm air on your skin, and soak up all the sensations being offered to you in that moment. No matter what time of year, the moon and stars serve as great inspiration for thoughtful gazing and dwelling in your own present moment of space and time.

Try Walking Meditation

Don’t be intimidated by meditation by assuming that it’s only for monks and Buddhists with years of training in mental discipline. There exist many forms of meditation, and any amount of time will benefit you — especially if done daily.

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Try walking meditation by just focusing on your steps and the earth beneath you, letting go of all other thoughts and judgements. When interfering thoughts creep in, acknowledge them and let them go by bringing your attention back to your steps. When we have moments of anger, frustration, or impatience in life, we can return to a meditative state of mind by observing our emotions instead of feeding them.

Make An Altar

You can make an altar anywhere in your home to serve as reminder or source of inspiration to help you keep a present state of mind. You can use the top of a dresser, a shelf, or table to place candles, photos, statues, words of inspiration, or bells. Use your alter as a place to collect your thoughts and have a moment of contemplation at the beginning or end of each day.

When we’re out of touch with ourselves, we lose sight of our full potential. Our actions and thought process become mechanical, like knee-jerk reactions that we’ve been conditioned to. To release yourself from these patterns, keep practicing these mindful activities. Over time, mindfulness will become your natural way of being.

Featured photo credit: Yoga Master/Nathan Rupert via flic.kr

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Bethany Cleg

Photographer, Entrepreneur

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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