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Q: HOW TO PRACTICE MINDFULNESS IN OUR DAILY LIVES?
A: First of all, I love this question because it has the word ‘practice’ in it! Personally, I believe that mindfulness is a practice. It’s not a permanent state of being. It’s an ephemeral thing we would need to cultivate on a daily basis with a healthy dose of discipline, patience, kindness, gratitude, and a spark of joy, to keep it alive–the way we would care for a house plant.
Below, I will share the 3 things I do to practice mindfulness on a daily basis. Feel free to adopt these into your life when you see fit.
1. DO ONE THING AT A TIME
Although in various occasions I am proud of my ability to multi-task, to practice mindfulness, I choose to do one thing at a time. To concentrate and focus on one thing–no matter how small or trivial it is: boiling a cup of tea, eating, conversing with friends via instant messenger, planning my day.
The idea is to respect each task or activity on its own and give it its slot of uninterrupted time and attention.
This means to simply focus on eating and enjoying your meals, instead of enjoying your meals while watching Netflix, listening to podcasts, or conversing with friends.
I always find myself capable of finishing a bag of chips or a carton of popcorn effortlessly while watching movies or reading novels. But when I have a bag of chips or a carton of popcorn with me, without any distractions, I realized that in less than 20 seconds, my cravings have been satiated.
Start by selecting several activities each day to practice, and notice how you feel.
2. SLOW DOWN
Everyone has their own idea of ‘slowing down’, but the basic idea is not to be in a hurry–so we can turn off our fight or flight mode. Imagine how you would react to a similar situation–for instance, a traffic jam–when you are in a hurry and when you are not in a hurry.
‘Slowing down’ helps us to get connected to that inner calm inside of us, that is not hurrying, rushing, or buzzing.
This can mean anything from slowing down your breathing to slowing down your car, from slowing down and pause for 10 seconds before you type a comment on someone’s feed to slowing down by taking a break from work. This can also mean talking slower, reacting slower, or walking slower.
3. OBSERVE INSTEAD OF JUDGE
There’s a difference between thinking: “there are unwashed plates piling on the kitchen” and “the owner of this kitchen is lazy and dirty” or “this kitchen is a total disaster“.
When we observe, we see what is. When we judge, we see what we want (or have been taught) to see.
When we observe, the sky is gray. When we judge, the weather sucks–or, on the contrary, the sky looks so romantic. When we observe, that woman skipped the queue. When we judge, that woman is rude, uneducated, someone needs to teach her a lesson or shout at her because that is so unacceptable. When we observe, this city has many old buildings. When we judge, this city is so beautiful.
When we judge something for better or worse, we are sticking ‘labels’ into it based on our histories, our upbringings, our preferences, our experiences, or even our traumas. When we observe, we learn to recognize things as they are; instead of what we think they are.
Next time you’re standing in front of a mirror, or talking to a colleague at work, or even walking around the street, try to notice whether you are observing or judging.
Do you have any tips on practicing mindfulness in your daily life? What are some of the things that become a part of your daily mindfulness practice? I would love to hear from you!