Mindfulness Techniques Inspired by the Power of Now
What's going on in your head? Plenty!
Your mind is busy in there right this minute, thinking about all sorts of things. It may be telling you that you are tired of your job, or that you are a victim of circumstances. It may be running through a list of all the things you need to do, reminding you of embarrassing or unhappy moments.
Your mind may be going through all the wrong things at the wrong time, and yet you may not be aware of it. You may just feel slight anxiety creeping in as you go about your day and wonder why you are feeling this way.
If you take a moment to observe your mind, you will realize that your mind is actually often in the past and future. Not only is it an interesting realization, but the most amazing part is that you can usually end any feelings of worry or anxiety caused by this thinking pattern just by practicing some basic mindfulness techniques.
Here are some tips on mindfulness techniques to improve your life, inspired by the popular book The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment.
Mindfulness Technique #1: Observe Your Thoughts and Feelings As Much As You Can
In life, we are always encouraged to think. Your teachers ask you to "Use your brain" or your parents ask you to "Think before you speak.". Thinking is good if we are using this tool correctly (i.e. to think of practical solutions, to get innovative ideas). However, thinking can also be detrimental if we allow ourselves to get out of control and start dwelling on repetitive and meaningless (often negative) thoughts.
Observing your thoughts and feelings is therefore a helpful way to detect bad habits that are causing you anxiety and unhappiness in life. Whenever thoughts come to your mind, stop for a moment, step back (as if you are a third party observing your own thoughts) and observe where these thoughts are coming from and how it is making you feel. Ask yourself if these thoughts are really valid, if it is even practical and effective in your current state to entertain such thoughts.
As you get better at tuning into your own subconscious mind, you will start to see patterns. For instance, you may start to notice that your mind has the habit of mulling over and worrying about decisions that you have yet to make, or your mind tends to harp on negative moments in the past, causing you endless stress. Most of the time, your thoughts are not even related to what you were doing when these thoughts came about.
Recognizing how destructive this habit of indecisiveness or negativity thinking is can help to spur you to change - i.e. you learn to start making decisions more quickly, stop procrastinating and you try to focus on more positive thoughts. You will gradually notice how this positive change in habit will help to alleviate stress and anxiety.
Mindfulness Technique #2: Don't Become a 'Wait-er'
Recognize that NOW is all you currently have and really all that matters.
Don't wait for life to happen. Waiting means that you are not satisfied with your present life and you are constantly thinking of your future, it means you don't want to be where you are now, but you want to be somewhere else. It's mentally draining to be in this constant state of mind.
It's not wrong to want more in life, to set goals. So set your goals, use whatever you learn in the past NOW to get closer to your goal. At the same time, don't be overly obsessed with dreaming about the future or worrying about the fruit of your labor/actions NOW. Be grateful for what you have at this current moment and focus your energy on working slowly towards your goal, enjoying the process (both the good and the bad) along the way.
If you find yourself in a bad situation now, Eckhart Tolle (author of The Power of Now) says that we all have 3 options to tackle this:
- Removing ourselves from the bad situation,
- Changing it, or
- Accepting the situation completely
To be responsible for our own lives and keep our minds free from negativity and unhappiness, we need to choose and also make a choice the instant we find ourselves in such circumstances. We should not procrastinate and we have to accept the consequences of our decisions (no regret!).
Do you feel like you are living your life like a 'wait-er'?
The Power of Now has sold over 2 million copies worldwide and has been translated into over 30 foreign languages. This book is power packed with useful information and tools on how to truly live in the present. The amount of information in this book may be a little overwhelming for some so you do need some patience to read this book. However, you will be able to sieve out many useful and inspiring tips and insights that can help to reshape your life and your thinking.
Mindfulness Technique #3: Pay Attention to Your Inner Body
Feel the energy and life from within, every muscle, every organ, every cell in your body. Be consciously aware of your physical being. Practice doing this daily. You can always start your practice by using deep breathing techniques to slowly bring your focus to your body.
" If you keep your attention in the body as much as possible, you will be anchored in the Now. You won't lose yourself in the external world, and you won't lose yourself in your mind. Thoughts and emotions, fears and desires, may still be there to some extent, but they won't take you over. "- The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment.
If you pay attention to your body, it can help you to be more deep rooted and help your mind to stay more present.
Mindfulness Technique # 4: Stay Right Where You Are
Just start paying attention to everything going on in the present. Of course, this can be difficult if you had hardly done it before so you need to keep practicing. If your mind drifts, focus back on what is currently happening. Focus on your breathing, heighten your awareness of your current surroundings, what you are doing, the sounds, smells, people around you right now.
For example, when you are having your meal, don't just chew and swallow. Take time to feel the food in your mouth (i.e. the texture, temperature, the taste -salty, sour, sweet, bitter). When you are walking, feel your breathing and pay attention to every step that you are taking. When you are having fun (e.g. you are in an art festival, parade, performance, hanging out with friends), don't get so worked up trying to get the perfect picture, or trying to capture all the amazing moments. Stop, observe and simply absorb and enjoy your surroundings.
Try not to multi-task. Multi-task does not always make you more efficient. It involves you spreading your attention across different tasks, which can make us feel unproductive and unsatisfied (if not managed properly). Mindfulness techniques involve being focused on one time at a time and I personally find that multi-tasking can create a degree of stress and anxiety. So plan your time well to minimize the need to multi-tasks.
To measure how effective your 'awareness' training is, observe how much calmer you feel as you become more 'in the present'.
You can also practice mindfulness by leaning how to Zentangle. Find out more in my article below:
- Zentangle Step By Step Guide To A More Peaceful You
A Zentangle step by step guide for beginners who wants to learn Zentangle Art to practice mindfulness and de-stress.
Mindfulness techniques are very powerful life instruments. They effectively help to reduce anxiety and unhappiness by teaching us to appreciate every moment in our lives. Therefore, make the conscious effort to practice and change your mindset to better your life today.