JUNE TIPS: Foundations For Mindful Living
For many people, learning mindfulness is life-changing. But how do we consistently bring the benefits of this practice into our lives?
In a very basic way, I might define mindful living as balancing Doing with enough time just Being. This balance tends to lead to greater connection with ourselves, other people and our environment, a feeling of being more fully present in our lives. (For more detail see the Mindful Living page).
This month I’m taking a look at laying down a foundation for mindful living, on an ongoing basis.
Perhaps you’re at the start of your mindfulness journey, or looking to refresh your commitment to living more mindfully. In either case, it’s likely you’ll meet a few challenges along the way. Here are a few supports I fall back on when I need to feel more grounded in mindful living.
You could use some of these as journaling prompts, or just give yourself some space to reflect on what mindful living looks like for you.
Awareness of Intention
Everyone’s reasons for wanting to develop mindfulness may be different. Why is important to you personally? What made you want to learn about it in the first place?
If this is brand new, maybe there’s a change you’d like to see happen in your life. If you already practice mindfulness, perhaps you’ve already experienced some benefits, or cultivated some positive habits that you don’t want to ‘forget’.
Mindful living isn’t always an easy path to stay on – remind yourself often why it matters to you.
Remove ‘Doing Triggers’
Even if you’re not sure what mindful living really is, you might already have some awareness of how the opposite feels: rushed, distracted, overly busy, scattered and in constant Doing mode.
Think about what sort of things trigger these states and therefore undermine mindful living. Again, this is personal. In my case, it’s the devices that lure me into online time, books that I feel driven to ‘get through’, and excessive input from TV, podcasts and articles.
(My starting point with this approach was years ago when I began switching off notifications, one of the best ways I’ve ever discovered to protect my own mindfulness).
Once identified, we can think about how to reduce these triggers. Using my examples above, this means leaving my phone switched off and out of sight whenever I can; reducing how many books are left lying around; and designating times and spaces in my day as ‘input-free zones’, such as a meal at the table or some quiet time cooking.
Your examples may be different. And you don’t have to stop at ‘Doing’ triggers: there may be other conditions in your life that undermine mindfulness. What could you do to reverse that impact?
When we think about what could help us to be more mindful in daily life, meditation practice might be the obvious thing that comes to mind.
But we can also consider other conditions that support mindful living, and maximise those where possible.
Perhaps that means seeking out like-minded people, being outside more, or even getting more sleep.
Think about what conditions would help you to bring more mindfulness into your life. Which one would make the biggest difference right now?
Something that I find really supportive is to incorporate ‘mindful corners’ into my life.
Writer Pico Iyer talks about the “adventure of going nowhere” – I love how this phrase speaks to both the benefit and the challenge of spending more time just Being. He goes on to say that “Nowhere has to become somewhere we visit in the corners of our lives, by taking a daily run or going fishing or just sitting quietly”.
I’ve created literal corners of my everyday life that give me a nudge to drop into just Being. When I get caught up in busyness, or feel like my head is getting too full, these are the places that invite me to pause and connect to more stillness.
Some of mine include:
– my garden bench which has become a regular ‘sit spot’
– the family photo I use for a screensaver on my phone
– the pot-plant I put next to the armchair with the good view
– the mini nature painting that sits above the washing-up sink
They function as a frequent reminder of my intention to live mindfully.
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On the Mindful Living page of my site, I explore in more depth what this might actually look like in practice.
Pico Iyer’s 15-min talk The Art of Stillness has a great take on how finding pauses in our life can support intentional living.
Short meditations are one way to build pauses into your day, to help grow the awareness needed for mindful living – find mini-meditations (of 5 minutes or less) at the bottom of my Meditations page.
If you would like to work with me to support your own mindful living journey, I run mindfulness workshops and classes in Heaton Moor (South Manchester). I’m also opening up some slots in the autumn for ‘Intentional Living’ sessions – these are 1-to-1 by Skype. You can find out more on the Coaching Programme page.