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7 Ways to Let Mindfulness Change Your View of the World

7 Ways to Let Mindfulness Change Your View of the World

As paradoxical as it sounds, mindfulness is a way to escape from your problems by addressing them. But contrary to what you might think, it doesn’t just happen in a quiet room. You can be mindful in any situation. Like a jedi, it helps to train yourself. Begin practicing in a meditative setting with no distractions. Then, take your practice into the world.

Immersive activities are a perfect opportunity to practice mindfulness. An immersive activity is one in which you concentrate on process. You’re putting one foot in front of the other. While you’re doing this, any type of thought might come knocking at your door, unbidden.

Don’t judge your thoughts. Thoughts, when they surface from the subconscious to the conscious mind, are equivalent to things that appear in the field of vision. This rock has its particular texture, its color, and its shape (even its taste!). That thought has its particular context, its substance, its subject, and its associations. A thought is not good or bad unless you judge it. If you judge a thought, hang on to it, and brood over it, that’s when it affects you negatively.

Try these activities and practice monitoring your breathing. Practice being mindful of your thoughts and setting.

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1. Write a poem.

writing

    Poetry facilitates mindfulness because it’s the act of recording your thoughts. In this case, the thoughts you write down can center on your surroundings — but they don’t have to. They can be thoughts about your thoughts. This act of poetry is an exercise of mindfulness, translated onto the page. Just as you don’t judge your thoughts, don’t judge what you’re writing. The more mindful you are of your body and surroundings, the more thoughts pop up. This is the wellspring of creativity.

    Having trouble getting started? There are poetry writing exercises that can help.

    2. Take a walking tour.

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    Venice_002

      Vacations can be full of frenzied efforts to do as much as possible. But on your next vacation, consider taking a walking tour. The slow pace will help you immerse yourself in the movements of your body and your surroundings. There are some excellent cities for a walking tour, such as Venice, which is primarily vehicle-free. Copenhagen, Seattle, Paris, and Florence are also well-suited for walking tours. New surroundings are excellent for mindfulness, because they don’t present old associations.

      3. Ride a horse.

      horseback

        There’s a reason why equine-assisted therapy helps people who suffer from PTSD, as well as drug and alcohol dependency. Interacting with a horse helps lower blood pressure and stress levels. It helps people cope with anxiety and anger. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) victims, in particular, can’t help but return to thoughts associated with trauma. Riding a horse helps them focus on the present. Take a horseback ride and pay attention to the feel of the animal, its muscular movement, and its breathing. Study the trail as it passes. Note your posture and how you hold the reins. This will improve your mindfulness.

        4. Adopt a dog.

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        Young_boy_petting_his_dog

          There’s been plenty of research on why pets make us happy. They make us more conscientious — more mindful — and more social. Specifically, petting a dog causes your brain to release the neurotransmitters dopamine and oxytocin, as well as the hormone prolactin. Dopamine and oxytocin are both associated with rewards and pleasure. In one study, adopting a dog helped bring down blood pressure levels in hypertensive New York City stockbrokers. The very act of petting a dog requires you to be mindful of the animal. Taking a dog for a walk will help you focus on the world as a dog sees it — and we all know dogs are some of the most mindful, aware animals in the world.

          5. Watch birds.

          birding

            Birdwatching (or “birding,” as some like to call it) is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the environment. You’ll concentrate directly on the plumage and movements, as well as the space where birds come and go — just like thoughts. In a way, birding is mindfulness incarnate. The Audubon Society has some tips on how to begin birding. It helps to consult a field guide to learn about the birds and where they live. Make sure you have binoculars. And most importantly, just go do it. I recommend simply immersing yourself in an area where you know there are plenty of birds.

            6. Take a hike.

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            hikingrocks

              This is the classic activity for mindfulness. Walking in the woods is great for your health. It promotes awareness of your surroundings and relieves stress. Like horseback riding, hiking is a form of therapy for PTSD. Take your time while hiking, observe the trees, undergrowth, and wildlife carefully. If your thoughts start to stray, let them. But let the woods bring your thoughts back to where you are.

              7. Plant a garden.

              16338-a-woman-enjoying-gardening-outdoors-pv

                If you’d like to know how to plant a vegetable garden, it’s key to find a good location that will get plenty of sun and has the right soil. Uproot weeds, and turn the soil about a foot deep. Make sure it’s fertilized. Plan where you want to put your plants. The point is this: all of these activities are helping you concentrate on the space. You’re focused on the process, and the practice of mindfulness encourages you to focus on that process. After all, if you focus on the results — the hypothetical future — you’re not there with the garden, growing with it.

                Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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                Dan Matthews, CPRP

                A Certified Psychosocial Rehabilitation Practitioner with an extensive background working with clients on community-based rehabilitation.

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                Last Updated on March 13, 2019

                How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

                How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

                Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

                You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

                Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

                1. Work on the small tasks.

                When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

                Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

                2. Take a break from your work desk.

                Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

                Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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                3. Upgrade yourself

                Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

                The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

                4. Talk to a friend.

                Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

                Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

                5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

                If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

                Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

                Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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                6. Paint a vision to work towards.

                If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

                Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

                Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

                7. Read a book (or blog).

                The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

                Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

                Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

                8. Have a quick nap.

                If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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                9. Remember why you are doing this.

                Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

                What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

                10. Find some competition.

                Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

                Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

                11. Go exercise.

                Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

                Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

                As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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                Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

                12. Take a good break.

                Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

                Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

                Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

                Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

                More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

                Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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