I don’t have time for mindfulness! There are so many more important tasks that I need to handle!
The toughest time to practice being mindful is when we’re overwhelmed, stressed, or under duress. When we are emotional, angry or sad, it seems impossible to find any peace or contentment.
And often, instead of seeking peace from within, we seek it from (already distressing) external circumstances.
When we get caught up in the “doing” and the “fixing,” it creates inner anxiety and stress, and limits our ability to function at our best in the world.
The time to practice mindfulness is now
It’s easy to get caught up in events and situations that are not within our control. We often forget that there is really not much that we can control.
While you might not have control of an outcome, you do have control over your thoughts, words, and actions.
Practicing mindfulness offers you one of the clearest, most conducive paths to healing. It helps you to raise your level of consciousness and take action from a place of truth and clarity.
What it means to be mindful
Being mindful does not mean checking out of your life and your circumstances. It does not mean inaction. It does not mean practicing ignorance and insensitivity to the world around you.
On the contrary, by getting quiet and taking time out for yourself, you create a safe space where you can process your emotions, get clear about how you want to respond, and thoughtfully choose your actions moving forward.
Mindfulness means pressing “PAUSE” on constantly reacting to the world around you. Instead, you become proactive: You are purposeful and intentional about what you say and do. You choose what impact you want to leave on others and how you will make that impact.
8 ways to use mindfulness to tap into your inner peace and strength
As a wise person once said, the time to practice mindfulness is when you don’t have time to do so.
There are many, easy ways to integrate mindfulness into your life. You can start right now, right where you are, even if (and especially if) you are feeling anxious or stressed.
1. Breathe. At any moment, no matter where you are, you can stop and focus on your breathing. Simply take a long, slow, deep breath in for 6 full counts, and then out for 6 counts. Do that for as long as you can until your anxiety subsides.
2. Realize that right now, you are OK. You are alive, you are well enough be reading this, you likely have your faculties and wits about you. You are safe, you are OK, and that is what is important.
3. Acknowledge the importance. If something has a profound effect on you, you will unlikely be able to “just get over it,” no matter how many times you hear that advice. To be deeply affected by something is to be passionate about it, and we are passionate about the things most important to us.
4. Allow yourself to feel. Stifling your emotions, avoiding them, or negating them entirely will only strengthen their hold on you. Holding in your emotions causes you to remain stuck in that state. Feel your feelings so that you can let them pass through.
5. Stay in the present. Thinking about the future often causes us to catastrophize or imagine things that haven’t happened yet (and maybe never will.) Being in the moment — centering on where you are and what you are doing — is key to keeping a calm, peaceful energy.
6. Focus on the things that are under your control. We have control over a limited number of things, but those things are what create our life experiences. While you can’t always choose what happens to you, you can always choose how to respond.
7. Make a decision. Once you feel like you are clear-headed, resolve to make a decision. You might decide to be positive, to take a contributory action, or to speak up. You might resolve to take the best possible care of yourself and others, no matter what else is going on.
8. Practice gratitude. Even when everything feels like it’s going wrong, there is likely a lot going right. What can you be grateful for — big or small — in any area of your life? How can you celebrate that on a daily basis?
The Ripple Effect
Ripple effect: a situation in which one event causes a series of other events to happen
Any and every action, big or small, determines the ripple effect you send out into the world. You get to choose what you want that ripple to be: Is it positive? Is it negative? Is it kind? Is it harmful?
It begs asking yourself a bigger question. What is it you want to see in the world? How will you be a part of creating that? How are your actions — toward yourself and others — aligned with creating that world?