Big Reasons (And Tiny Ways) To Become A More Mindful Being
Always going, never stopping.
Work, kids, family, friends.
And somewhere in the middle, you steal a moment back.
You inhale, taking what you need in. You exhale and let the rest go.
Slowly, you start shifting from autopilot to manual and before you know it, everything clears up. You’ve taken back the wheel. There’s nothing but an open road ahead.
That’s what mindfulness feels like – a gap in the clutter so that we can reclaim control. Mindfulness is the ability to pause so we can move with purpose. To be able to step away from our thoughts and feelings so we can acknowledge them rather than let them take control. If you’ve ever been with friends and have no recollection of what was said, it’s probably because your mind was elsewhere. But when we practice mindfulness, we can declutter the noise, rope ourselves back in and be fully present, so that we can enjoy the moments that matter most.
That’s what we here at Plume & Petal are all about: living mindfully so we can enjoy fully. There are so many reasons why being more mindful in our day to day is beneficial – from the way it alters our brains to the way it affects our relationships. What’s best? Here are five reasons why being more mindful could do us all some good – with some simple techniques to help get us there.
Reason 1: Mindfulness Affects Your Brain – In A Good Way
Did you know that our thoughts, habits and experiences affect the shape of our brains? We’re serious. The theory is called Neuroplasticity. Similar to how working out strengthens and shapes our body muscles, the focus of our awareness strengthens and weakens parts of our brain. The more we worry and stress, the better we become at worrying and stressing. But the more we practice being calm, focused and positive, we become better at this instead.
This is where mindfulness meditation comes into play. When we meditate regularly, we build a capacity to push away the disquieting thoughts and emotions that take everything over and leave room for new streams of information to come in – like creativity and critical thinking. Mindfulness meditation lays down the groundwork for living a more mindful life, and the more we practice, the easier it gets.
The Technique: Practicing Mindfulness Meditation
Experts say it takes about 100 days to make a habit, so if that’s the case – there’s no time like the present to start! Commit to sitting quietly for five to ten minutes a day. It could be in your room in the mornings, in your living room in the evening or even in your car between drop-offs and pick-ups. Work your way up to include more time as you start getting more comfortable.
Reason 2: You’ll Control Your Emotions, Not The Other Way Around
Anger, sadness, frustration, jealousy etc. – they’re all a part of the human experience. And, hey, it’s ok to not feel ok sometimes – but it’s important to not let your feelings take control. Mindfulness helps you to be aware of your emotions so that you can manage them, rather than letting them manage you.
The Technique: Say Hello And Let It Go
When not so good thoughts or feelings arise, don’t indulge them or make them a part of your reality. Simply acknowledge how you’re feeling without judgment (say hello!) then give that feeling and thought permission to leave (let it go!).
Reason 3: Mindfulness Gives Your Self-Esteem A Boost
Tearing ourselves down comes more naturally than building ourselves up. It’s a terrible truth, but here’s the silver lining: we don’t need to make it our default behavior! We simply need to start swapping pessimistic thoughts about ourselveswith optimistic ones. Our affirmations can become our mental realities – but not without a little effort. Remember, positivity is a practice, not a given. Being kind to ourselves is something we need to consistently reinforce.
The Technique: Adopt An Affirmation
Create or adopt an affirmation that helps you feel happy, empowered, calm, etc. Keep the affirmation in your back-pocket. When the negative thoughts start to flood in, recognize them and close your eyes and repeat the affirmation to yourself over and over again. With more practice, the negative thoughts will start visiting less frequently.
Reason 4: Good Relationships Start with Mindfulness
When we’re mindful of our thoughts, we’re mindful of how we respond, whetherit’s to a spouse, a friend, a co-worker or someone we just met. We bring more value to our relationships because we don’t get swept up in the emotions. Our reactions become less “reactive” and more empathetic. And we all know that vibes are contagious; a little positivity and understanding go a long way!
The Technique: The Five-Second Interlude
Angry? Give yourself at least five seconds before you make any response. This will give your emotions time to pass and will give you a chance to respond with a level head.
Reason 5: Mindfulness Starts With You
The most important relationship we’ll ever have is the one with ourselves and whether we know it or not, this will set the tone for every other relationship we have. It’s kind of like an airline safety video: make sure to put your oxygen mask on before you put anyone else’s. Be mindful of nourishing yourself with light so that you can bring this light to others.