The first time I heard about mindfulness I was intrigued by the thought of it. The concept sounded like something I needed and something I wanted but how does one become mindful?
I researched mindfulness and how to be mindful but all the internet searches and book introductions I read over had a way of making mindfulness sound like a long step process and a highly complicated achievement, with emphasis on the end result being worthwhile.
Sure, the end result would be worthwhile, but mindfulness seemed to be too much of an effort, and the idea of adding more effort to the effort I was already exacerbated by in my life at the time was just something I couldn’t fathom.
As life continued I kept seeing mindfulness pop up in facebook feeds, on posters, on events and brochures, people I met and in my own consciousness, but since the only thing I had concluded about mindfulness was that it was an effort,
I continued casting it away onto my ‘one day when life is easier’ pile.
I carried on with life, struggling actually at that point as the stressors and pressures of living kept piling in on me from every angle.
I was drowning with the weight of trying to remember this appointment, that commitment, what bill needed paying, what tasks were required of me to complete, I wanted to look into this, call back those numbers that kept ringing, find that list I made 2 weeks ago, why can’t I be more organised, this means I am a failure etc. etc.
I wasn’t able to continue functioning with the state my mind was in. I finally admitted defeat and fate lead me to respite. I went to a place where there is no technology, no outside noises, no obligations other than bedtime, people around me but no one I had to talk to. I was fed, clothed, and sheltered and had the opportunity to sit and be for the first time in my life.
This is where I found mindfulness and I wish I had of realised how much mindfulness could have benefitted my overwhelmed existence, and more importantly how simple being mindful can actually be.
I realise that the opportunity of a lengthy respite isn’t available for everyone and an impossibility for most, but if you could gift yourself one day of your life or even half a day, you might be surprised at how much that will give you.
So, that’s my goal for this moment.
Step by step instructions on how you can be mindful for a day.
Pick a day, any day, that you can clear of all obligations and commitments so you have nothing nagging in the back of your mind. If you do have a lot on your plate, before you start the day you have chosen, write down in a list all the responsibilities you have and set it aside to revisit after your day of mindfulness.
It’s important to note that for that day you will be without distractions. Often we use distractions as a tool to avoid boredom. But we don’t realise the importance of being bored.
Think of boredom historically, before the age of digital media and technology.
Boredom was a part of every day. Humans sat with boredom and were perfectly fine. It wasn’t avoided it was accepted. It inspired moments of creativity and imagination, it provided time to reflect and solve problems. It gave attention to goals and motivation. It initiated social interaction and gave people more appreciation over the finer things in life cause they weren’t taken for granted, they were moments to live for.
The night before the day you chose, go to bed at your normal hour but choose some meditation music to listen to as you close your eyes. (Click here for music suggestions).
While you relax, listen to the beats and breathe deeply allowing yourself to rest.
Don’t set an alarm for the morning. (Unless you have children that have to make it to school, of course.) Here is a helpful blog to read which will assist you in getting a good nights rest.
As you wake up this morning and your eyes open with the daylight, while the temptation might be there, don’t close your eyes and go back to sleep.
Smile at the morning and appreciate the new day.
Stay in bed enjoying it’s comfort for as long as you want. Enjoy a good stretch and as you sit up to stand, pause, take a deep breath, smile and wonder to yourself, what will today bring?
Complete your morning routine without TV.
Look at your mobile to see if something has come up through the night, but avoid replying until later. Do not open any social media apps. Put your phone on silent.
Get ready to leave the house. Wear comfortable shoes.
Take all necessities with you like your purse or wallet, myki card, your diary or a notepad, a pen, sunglasses, keys, sunscreen, hat or umbrella depending on the weather.
If you are game, leave your phone at home.
Today you might notice some thoughts pop up inside your head that trigger a physical reaction like, a racing heart, unease in your stomach, shallow breathing. Accept these thoughts and give thanks to your mind for bringing it to your attention. Be sure to write it down in your diary or notebook. Once it’s written down, there is no need for your mind to remind you of it anymore. So take a deep breath in and as you exhale let the thought go along with it.
The same applies with happy thoughts. On these mindful journeys all kinds of inspiration channels towards you. Document these ideas and insights, today you are open to receive as you are not distracted by the past or future. Often you will find answers to questions you didn’t realise you had.
Don’t be tempted by your car today as you leave your house.
Go to the bus/tram stop or train station closest to your home that will take you somewhere where you enjoy going the most. Can a shopping complex, a park, a community centre, library etc
While you wait for the next arrival, sit and observe the day patiently.
What’s the weather like?
What’s the passing traffic like?
Is there anyone else waiting with you?
Can you hear the traffic?
Can you hear the birds?
As your transport arrives don’t rush on board. Greet the driver if applicable with a hello or a smile. Find your seat and relax. Look around the vehicle. How many passengers are there?
What are they doing?
Observe anything that takes your interest quietly.
Accept that these people have places to go to of their own, and hope that their day goes well.
Look outside and watch the scenery pass you by.
Appreciate your transport, how lucky that it’s available for all these passengers, and yourself.
When you arrive at your destination, stay seated until the vehicle stops.
Allow those who appear to be rushed go ahead of you. Don’t assume any judgements on them, understand that they have their own reasons and time commitments to uphold.
You might remember a time where you felt similar to them, accept that life can be hurried sometimes but remind yourself that today, you have nowhere to be except exactly where you are. Be present to the thought of now.
Try not to forget to thank your driver, they just did you a wonderful service!
Once arrived, stand somewhere to the side of any footpaths or doorways.
Look at the sky. Is it bright blue or greyish and dark? Is it clear skies or are there clouds? What colour are the clouds? Are they moving fast across the sky or slowly? Appreciate the weather for it’s purpose in nature.
Look around you and notice the people. What are they doing? Where are they going?
Do any look at you and nod, or smile? Do they have their children with them?
At this point you may wonder, what do I do now?
Be open to the flow of your community, you might like to wander around for a while until an idea comes to you, or you might feel a pull towards something even if you aren’t sure of what it is yet.
Listen to your body, and trust your feelings. Just go along with whatever you feel is right.
As you walk along and you see something that catches your interest, stop and go have a closer look. Whatever it is, has called you to it and changed your journey in doing so.
Trust this process. These are the moments that align you towards your true path.
You might spend the day window shopping, or browsing books in the library but whatever you do you might start to notice a pattern of thoughts and ideas. Also you may notice people reacting to you differently and even yourself reacting to others differently.
You will feel more tolerant and accepting of what’s happening around you and you might feel a sense of unity with the world.
The day will start synchronising itself with your intentions.
It will provide you with whatever your highest self is manifesting.
This could just mean, having a wonderful day where everything was so easy, or it could be bumping into someone who offers you an opportunity you were hoping for.
When you feel like it’s time to go home then start the journey back..
Remain open to what catches your attention.
Remain aware of others around you.
Reflect on your day. Think about the moments you enjoyed and your favourite part of the day.
Appreciate yourself and be proud of yourself.
If you have any new insights write them in your diary/notepad.
You might feel tired and that’s ok. It’s been a big day!
I hope you enjoyed your day, sometimes it’s daunting doing something outside of your comfort zone, but once you’ve done once, it’s no longer outside that zone and becomes easier and easier.
I hope this showed you that mindfulness can be simple. It’s really just staying in the now by bringing your thoughts back into the awareness of what’s in front of you in that moment.
A day of mindfulness opens a lifetime of mindfulness.
If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy this article - What is Mindfulness?
Written by Cleo Jackson, currently on placement at The Melbourne Centre of Healing who assist people with Mental Health and Addictions.