Mindfulness essentially means to experience your breath, senses, thoughts and feelings like an observer. But how do you experience all of it like an observer? Ain’t we already observing our being and everything that it entails? No we are not.
A very simple definition of Mindfulness by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgementally
or this beautiful soulful definition by Rumi<3
Wherever you stand, be the soul of that place
Focusing on the very last word of Jon Kabat-Zinn’s definition; being non-judgemental can help us understand that it is truly about acceptance of the present state without wishing it were different(liking or disliking) or any kind of fear that it might change in the future. Mindfulness will help you understand life. The good and pleasant moments won’t last forever so pay attention and absorb as much as you can. In the very same way, the bad and unpleasant moments cannot and will not last forever so pay attention and be there without any fear.
So how can we learn mindfulness or mindfulness meditation. I don’t want to make this blog lengthy which is why I decided to break it into three parts. This week I’ll only cover simple Mindfulness practices which can be done using your five physical senses.
So let’s dive into it.
Learn to Let Go: Practice Mindfulness Meditation
Part 1: Practice Mindfulness with Five Senses
Human beings have 5 physical senses through which they channel their perception. Seeing,hearing,touching,tasting and smelling. In order to start practicing mindfulness, you will have to stop and acknowledge/observe each of these senses separately.
Choose any object you want to put your attention towards. Suppose you choose to fix your attention on a windowpane. Now acknowledge the fact that you are looking at this window pane. This will take a second. Afterwards absorb everything about this windowpane. The color of the glass pane? The shape and texture of it? Notice if there is any kind of light falling on the window pane? Notice all of these things and absorb them completely. Remember you just have to notice and absorb the object not think whether or not you like it or any kind of background knowledge associated with it.
Choose the sound you want to fix your attention on. While listening to someone talk, notice and acknowledge that you are hearing them talk. Notice it for a second and then absorb the tone of their voice, their style of saying particular words. A sound stays on for a short period of time so what you can do is pick any word they are saying, observe it and after it has been said, relish the memory of it.
While listening them talk, just notice and absorb the sounds without thinking of whether or not you like what they say or any kind of judgement of what they should say. I found it hard to do it initially and so I decided I’ll do it first with the people I really love. I started to listen to how my mom would say certain words and absorbing the memory of them later. I also practiced it while talking on the phone. It will not come easy or naturally especially if you are like me who gets distracted in a matter of minutes.
Some easy hearing practices include: Sound of the moving fan,birds chirping, traffic noises, clicking sounds of keyboard or your smartphone while you type, sound of cricket insect at night, water flowing while in a shower etc
Notice the weight of your feet on the floor. Absorb all the sensations that you feel. You might feel hot/cold or if you are standing then you might feel pressure in your limbs. Similarly with touching, first notice that you are touching certain part of your body for a second and then start relishing all the sensations that you feel.
Some easy feeling/touching practices: holding someone’s hands, giving a long and mindful hug, holding a cup of hot tea, the sensations of sleeping on freshly washed sheets.
These are just some basic examples. Once you learn to stop and notice all of your senses, you will become much more aware and in tune with your self. Mindfulness gives you emotional stability, reduces anxiety, builds resilience and you will feel lighter and happier. Nothing feels more stressful then having to work on auto-pilot mode.
Practice the remaining senses just by remembering the two step process
- Absorb and Relish(without any judgement)
What Mindfulness Gave Me?
Before I found the awareness to incorporate mindfulness in my life, I was restless and a master at multi-tasking. I could never accomplish any task in its due time. Each night before sleeping, some thoughts would shove me in a pit of depression. Like how come the same night has fallen once again and why does this night feels the same like every other night.
For the past two years I hated waking up because that too triggered those same depressing questions like why the hell do I need to wake up and what’s the purpose of my life. You would think that because I had been jobless for too long, these thoughts were a result of my circumstances. That is absolutely not true and even if the external circumstances somehow change according to your wishes, the depressing and bland feelings will persist. I am using the word ‘bland’ here because life does feel bland when you are unable to live in the moment and constantly on the look out for an external stimuli.
I don’t want to hinder my progress by sharing too much but I want to tell you that now I don’t feel the weight of my existence when I wake up. Instead its a mixture of different sensations and sounds I wake up to. This kind of change only starts happening once you become aware and commited towards changing the habits causing you to live on auto-pilot mode.
Doing One Thing at a Time
In addition to practicing mindfulness through the five senses, learn the art of doing and enjoying one task at hand. This simple act of entertaining single task at a time will naturally increase your awareness levels to a point where you can learn to become mindful.
I never intended to stretch the first part with so many details but I also did not want to skip out on my experience with Mindfulness. I would write the remaining two parts of Mindfulness series within two to three weeks. And please ask questions and give comments after reading this blog. Thanks
Have a great and productive week ahead!