Mindful living is learning to live in the present moment without judging yourself or others. This doesn’t come naturally to most people. In our rapid paced world, many of us suffer from destination addiction. We’re always thinking ahead to what comes next.
For example, maybe you’re headed out for a fun day at the beach. You’re excited to get away from everything and unwinding. But then, as you’re driving, you start replaying the argument you had with your husband a few days ago.
And before you know it, you’re all amped up again!
Instead of living in the current moment, you found yourself digging up dirt from the past. Doing this makes it hard to move on and can lead you to carrying around anger and resentment.
In recovery rooms mindfulness is referred to as “keeping your head where your feet are.”
Learn to Practice Non-Judgmental Awareness
Instead of reacting emotionally to situations like people do when they’re on autopilot, you can learn to focus on the current moment without and observing them without letting your emotions take over.
You might see an aggravating social media update from a friend that makes you angry. But instead of responding, you stay in the moment. You acknowledge your emotions without judgement. And then you just move on. This frees you from losing a day of productivity because you were obsessed with this one comment.
Mindful Living Helps Ground You in Gratitude
During unpleasant tasks, like while you’re washing dishes or cleaning up the kids’ messes, it can be tempting to let your mind wander. But an important part of mindful living is learning to stay in the moment, even if that moment is unpleasant or uncomfortable.
Don’t give into feelings of negativity as you’re staying aware during a difficult moment. Instead, focus on giving thanks. For example, you might say something like, “I’m blessed to have a home to clean” or how much you love your kids even when they’re being messy. Now, you’ve managed to stay in the moment without letting yourself focus on the negative.
Mindful Living Can Improve Your Mood
Few things can improve your mood quite like mindful living. Often, anxious thoughts are the result of worrying about the future while sad thoughts are related to regretting the past. Mindful living helps because it forces you to stop overthinking.
Unless there’s something you can do to change your past, you have to accept what’s happened in your life. If you do find that you’re frequently haunted by regrets or always worrying about tomorrow, it might be smart to speak to a trained counselor who can help you move on.
Mindful living is one simple way to improve your life. Try to spend a week focused on mindful living and see how your thoughts change.
Stop Living on Autopilot
Susan was driving her daughter to a playdate with a friend from school. She spent most of the drive thinking about the fight she just had with a friend. When she arrived at her destination, she realized she was actually at the grocery store, instead of friend’s house. She quickly turned her car around and managed to her friend’s house on time.
What Susan realized at the grocery store was that she had been on “autopilot.” She wasn’t fully present in that moment. Some researchers say that the average person spends over half their time on autopilot. This isn’t an intentional way to go through life!
One common problem in our society is phone addiction. Whether you’re at the doctor’s office or at a red light, you’re constantly checking your phone for messages. You respond to text messages when you’re waiting on line at the grocery store. You dictate your to do list into your phone while you’re driving.
You’re constantly connected to your smartphone, but the fact is that you’re disconnected from the world around you – your family, friends and coworkers.
If you make a habit of eating in front of a screen, you’ll notice your empty plate but then you can’t remember what your food tasted like. Or worse, you realize that you’ve eaten more food than you thought you did. This type of disconnect between your body and mind can lead you to overeat (with regrets afterwards) and to not enjoy your meals as you should.
How to Create a Mindfulness Journal
Mindfulness is a complete body, mind, and spirit practice. Through meditation and
contemplation, you begin to remove the negative from your life as you learn to recognize it. You’ll also begin to see what is triggering you and how your body physically reacts to that triggering. One way to do this is by having a mindfulness journal.
How to Set Up and Use a Mindfulness Journal
A mindfulness journal strongly resembles what some might call a devotional journal. In
many cases, people use a scripture or quote to prompt their writing. This verse or statement gives you something to reflect on about your own life. As you write in your journal, you’ll be reflecting on this quote and giving your thoughts how it applies to you.
Many mindfulness journals are prompt based to get your mind thinking and focusing on you and your feelings about your day or whatever stress you’re experiencing in your life.
The ideal time to use a mindfulness journal is in the morning. This allows you to bring
the focus to you and keep that focus for the day. It is usually part of a meditation routine
that allows you to meditate for several minutes, write about your thoughts, and take
those thoughts with you throughout the day. It is a form of written meditation that can
help you focus and de-clutter your mind and thoughts.
Mindfulness journaling helps to declutter your thoughts. Some people really struggle with monkey mind, and mindfulness journaling is a great way to lose the mental clutter. It’s also a way of getting to know yourself once again.
Mindful Living Tips
Now that you’re familiar with what the concept of mindful living is, you’re probably wondering how to get started. Here’s a few exercises to get you started.
Savor Your Morning Drink
The sacred brew…whether’s it’s coffee, tea or a smoothie, take a pause first. Practice being present instead of mindlessly gulping while you scroll your social media feed.
Take a Nature Walk
Be fully present in your surroundings. What do you see and hear? Before you tune out on your headset, Take ten minutes to notice your environment as you walk. Walking meditation is a wonderful tool to find your focus and calm your emotions.
Choose a coloring page that inspires you and won’t stress you out. How do the colors you have chosen make you feel? What does it feel like to move your art tools over paper? What thoughts are coming up and how do they affect you? You may want to journal some of these emotions.You might want to alternate between coloring and journaling if it helps you.
You’ll probably feel uncomfortable the first few times that you attempt to practice being mindful. This is totally normal and just means that you’re not use to living in the moment. Keep doing exercises like the ones above regularly and you’ll eventually become comfortable with the concept of living mindfully.
Is Mindfulness Christian?
For a long time I considered mindfulness meditation as something potentially scary and to be avoided. At least it was taught that way in the churches I’ve attended. But in my journey of recovery and living with chronic illness I’ve learned that mindfulness meditation is an excellent way to cope with the anxiety and stress of the conditions I live with.
The physical science is there to support it. And far from “emptying my mind” I’ve found that when I lose the mental chatter it’s easier to focus on my devotions. I consider Romans 14 to be very applicable here. If it’s not right for you, then of course don’t do it but I’ve found it immensely healing.
I finally came to an understanding that mindfulness is simply “practicing the pause.” Being totally present where I am this minute instead of racing to the next perceived destination. I’ve noticed a very distinct difference in the way I process stress now.
Mindfulness is not prayer. It is a brain exercise that can be integrated with Christianity. Dr. Gregory Bottaro
Our bodies are wonderful gifts. They talk to us all the time and tell us when they are out of balance or when certain parts need attention. When we allow space to connect with our breathing and our physicality, we allow ourselves to truly see and hear what our bodies are trying to tell us. This allows Christians more clarity and power to help nurture the container of the soul. It also provides more strength to literally help you embody your faith. Eden Kozlowski