“Mindfulness,” a technique in which you are focused on and deeply aware of your experience in the present moment, has been studied for decades as a path to well-being. This practice is a valuable tool for living a peaceful life.
When you learn to be aware of the present moment, your relationship with your thoughts changes. You learn to observe your thoughts, and realize that they are merely transient mental activity, usually about the past or the future. You no longer judge the thoughts or yourself…you merely observe them as they float through your mind.
Thoughts like, “I should not have said that. I’m a terrible friend” are observed non-judgmentally. You then let them go, neither caught up in the story about what you shouldn’t have said, nor with the self-critical thought of being an awful friend. You may have a clear thought in the moment that you should apologize to your friend, yet you are not holding onto self-judgments that can ruin your day. You learn to respond rather than react, accepting how you feel rather than fighting it.
This present-moment focus allows you to notice emotional triggers you might not wish to have. Life becomes richer when you live mindfully. Because you notice each moment’s experience, you no longer rush to get through the NOW to get to THEN. You live at a deeper level.
Typing an email, for instance, allows you to notice how the keys feel against your fingertips, how your words reflect your thoughts, and how you feel about the person to whom you are writing. You are more in tune with how others (and how you yourself) are feeling as you are more observant of details like body language, tone of voice, and choice of words. Communication becomes clearer and focused on the “now.”
Just as becoming physically fit requires more than an occasional exercise routine, living mindfully requires practice. The rewards are many as you find your stress levels reducing and your reactions to life’s events softening.