April 2, 2020
DAILY LIVING WITH MINDFULNESS PART THREE
How I Carry and Incorporate Mindfulness Into Daily Activities Outside The Practice
“In the previous part of my Daily Living with Mindfulness Series, I shared with you how I practice meditation; talking about how the mind behaves, how we observe the mind, as well as how we can gently bring it back to our base of meditation.
In this third part of the series, we’ll discuss how we can incorporate what we’ve learned and apply it outside our daily meditation practices; blending it into our daily activities.”
“What do we do when our mind wanders off during the day, outside the practice; Do we keep bringing it back to the base of meditation and not think at all?”
The answer is yes and no. Although our goal is to have the “Pause of Mindfulness” happen as frequently as possible, it would be rather unrealistic for most of us to not think. Especially given our daily obligations.
Yes, of course we still have to think, analyze, make decisions, plan things, and so on.
However, as long as we’re working on living more mindfully, it would make sense for us to also ask ourselves some introspective questions such as:
What do I think about?
What is my thinking pattern?
Does it serve me well or does it lead me to negative emotions and behavioral patterns?
By having the “Pause of Mindfulness” happen more frequently as we grow that muscle, this allows us to have that “break”, to recheck whether we are thinking and behaving in a way that is kind to ourselves and others, or not. It is essentially a tool to set ourselves up for happiness.
“Yes, we still have to think, but we need to also be mindful of what we think about”
Self-awareness or mindfulness functions like a muscle, the more we practice, the stronger and more efficient it becomes. Daily meditation practice serves as a base and practicing mindfulness during the day is when the rubber hits the road.
Living mindfully is a journey of self-discovery. It’s where we begin noticing our behavioral patterns and thinking process, catching ourselves in action, so that we can mitigate our lives more happily and intentionally.
First thing in the morning, I ask myself how I feel when I wake up, and honor that authentic feeling and truth.
On a happy positive day, there is nothing much to do, I just ride the wave of happiness and go with the flow. On a low day, however, an emotional lift-up would undeniably serve me well for the rest of the day.
Before mitigating negativity and aligning my mind towards positivity, I always check-in with myself emotionally first. It is important to note that being blindly positive is not what I’m going for, rather it’s intentionally choosing to be positive given the real situations I’m in.
It is to ask: “How can I approach the situation more positively?”
I will not deny that it’s hard to be positive when we feel low.
However, every day we have the choice to take action and do something that we know will lift our moods, encourage our spirits, freshen us up, and make us feel better. We can choose to fill ourselves up with those good vibes, making us more capable of approaching most situations with a positive outlook.
For me, recipes for a quick-fix on my low days includes makeup and a nice outfit. Both of which are creative outlets for my personal expression and for me to get that fresh start for the day. Good food and a nice café will also add a big boost to my day. And on particularly down days, the main recipe to get myself out of a rut includes sharing my feelings and thoughts with my significant other, as well as some good solitude downtime to process everything.
On a personal note, it’s important to remember that we are all different. What makes me happy and lifts my mood might differ from what works for you. With that said, I encourage you to find your own quick-fix recipes and remedies for those rough days or times where you might feel down. And, if you’re interested in learning more about this topic, I recommend reading my post on “Setting Yourself Up for Happiness” where I go more into detail about this topic.
“Living mindfully is essentially a self-discovery journey that is highly individualistic. The tools and tricks I share here are merely a palette of paint colors. How you use them to draw and paint your canvas is up to you and ONLY you.”
This is where “Pause of Mindfulness” comes in handy because a lot of times, we just live our lives in an automated manner, getting fixated in particular patterns, and can be in a reactive mode, as opposed to acting proactively and consciously choosing a timely and appropriate course of action.
Practicing mindfulness during the day
During the day, outside the practice and through self-observation, I have found that body movement is the approach I tend to gravitate towards to evoke “Pause of Mindfulness” more naturally and easily.
To put things into perspective, some people I know are more comfortable with taking a deep breath to invite “Pause of Mindfulness” in during the day. While others might use positive self-talk to bring about a “Pause of Mindfulness.” They might say something like, “[their-name] calm down, it will be ok, let’s slowly think this through, don’t panic …”
It’s completely up to us to observe and see which action becomes the most comfortable and natural approach to help us arrive at our own “Pause of Mindfulness.”
When I first tried to incorporate body awareness into my daily life, whenever I could remember I would remind myself to narrate my walking. “Left, right, left right…”
I would also remind myself to check-in to make sure that the narration actually matched the actual move I made, to make sure I was actually “present” with my body awareness, as opposed to busy thinking or letting my mind wander off to other objects of engagement.
Of course, I didn’t remember to remind myself every time I walked, but this symbolized an important key message for me to keep trying to remind myself to be mindful and to keep showing up for myself.
I continued to repeat this practice of narrating my walking and it became more and more natural with the time and practice. And soon enough this narrated walking and body awareness became natural and complementary, just like bread and butter!
These days I don’t narrate anymore when I walk during the day, since I’m more naturally aware of my leg muscles, like I am during my meditation practice.
However, for beginners who gravitate towards body movements like me for meditation, I highly recommend you try to narrate like I did in the beginning. Since muscle movement is subtler and harder to grasp while walking at our normal speed during our busy daily life.
As I mentioned earlier that the slower the walk, the deeper the body awareness…
To adjust and incorporate this “method” suitably for your normal walking speed during the day, the “left, right” narration is a very useful tool early on for that added layer of support. It’s kind of like when we were little kids first learning to ride a bicycle, we had those training wheels installed to support our proper balance. Once we became more comfortable and our riding skills got stronger, we ditched the support wheels because we didn’t need them any longer.
In Closing of Part Three…
My last note before wrapping up this section is that the incorporation of mindfulness practice in your daily life takes time before it blends in naturally and automatically. Similar to exercise, when you first try to build the habit, it really is “against” your natural rhythm.
But as time goes by and you keep showing up for yourself, it becomes your second nature to carry on with that routine and as a result, your body gradually gets stronger. In this case, your mind gets stronger as you become more mindful on a daily basis.
So, if you’re just starting out, please hang in there and keep showing up! 😊
In my next post, I will be sharing with you how mindfulness can enable us to build more positive thinking patterns and healthier habits.
I’ll talk to you soon!