Many spiritual seekers are surprised by observing their own mind when they meditate for the first time. They realise the presence of a constant thought chatter that they had not noticed before. They witness how their minds are constantly switching between past and future, seldom being in the present. But as you practice regularly, your ability to stay mindful for longer periods of time grows. You become aware of your awareness and become capable of distancing your "self" from your thoughts and observing them as if they were objects. This is called Meta-cognition in Cognitive psychology.
And this heightened state of awareness is called Mindfulness. But it’s easy to fall back into unawareness, to merge your awareness with your mind’s thought chatter, and thus lose your connection with the present moment. Once you experience mindfulness, you will not want to let it go. You may also try to remain mindful the entire day, which is very difficult. While that’s a very high bar to set for yourself if you are a beginner, there are ways to incorporate mindfulness in your daily life that we shall discuss.
MINDFULNESS AT WORK
To nobody’s surprise, multitasking prevents you from staying focused on one task. While you may think you are multitasking, your brain is constantly switching its attention from one task to another, so you are training your mind to make it incapable of staying focused on one thing for a sustained amount of time. Instead of multitasking, focus on the task at hand.
Focusing on the task at hand helps you to do the “deep work”. At the same time, it gives you the opportunity to be mindful of the task you are performing, this improves your concentration ability.
Many of us have the habit of watching TV while we eat. This draws our attention completely from the food we are eating. In the yogic culture, food is considered sacred. Mindful eating is a great practice to pay our respect to it. When you are not paying attention to the food you are eating, you’re basically stuffing yourself with food. To eat mindfully, you have to pay attention to your food, how it smells, it’s texture and taste. This is one of the best spiritual practices.
If you have trouble going to sleep at night, a simple life-hack is to meditate while trying to sleep. There are two possibilities: either you will go to sleep or into deep meditation. Either way, it's a win-win. The state of being in-between sleeping and waking state is called Yoga Nidra. All you need to do is breathe out to relax your body, and in that relaxed state become mindful of your body. We will talk about Yoga Nidra in detail in another blog-post.
If you go for evening walks or get any opportunity to walk during your day, you can practice walking mediation. In fact, if you’re finding it difficult to perform the classic sitting meditation because you want something more active, walking meditation is a great alternative for you to practice mindfulness. Generally, we walk in a very mechanical way. It almost feels like it is happening automatically. With walking meditation, you take every step, every movement with awareness. This decreases thought chatter and make you mindful.
MORNING AND EVENING ROUTINE
The quickest way to improve your well being and mental health is to have a definite time sleeping and waking up. Even better is to have a morning and evening routine. Incorporating meditation, yoga, and mindful journaling in your morning and evening routine is a great way to form healthy habits.
BE MINDFUL WHILE PERFORMING ASANAS
And lastly, don’t forget to be mindful while performing yoga asanas. This increases the benefits that you derive from practicing yoga.