Five Steps to Start Practicing Mindfulness
Practicing “mindfulness” requires you to learn a few basic ideas. Don’t worry though, they aren’t complex. The key to beginning this technique can be found in the words of Amit Ray, “if you want to master the anxiety of life, live for the moment, live breath by breath”.
The practice of mindfulness involves meditation and self-observation, but it also requires that we put our five senses into practice in our everyday lives. These ideas may seem quite abstract, but in reality they aren’t.
Practicing Mindfulness requires certain key ideas
José María Doria, who is the president of the Spanish School of Transpersonal Development, and has written books such as The 40 Doors, explains in his texts the basic foundations you need to start practicing mindfulness. In reading this author’s words, we discover that self-observation requires full presence. For this, you have to train yourself to live only in the present and not in the future. It is necessary therefore to abandon prejudices and to totally focus on the here and now.
Actually, what mindfulness focuses on is the dispersion and abstraction of the mind. If we spend hours wondering about what will happen tomorrow, we will have lost everything that’s happening in the present, and tomorrow, when it arrives, we will waste it away wondering about what will happen the following morning. ..And thus we will lose ourselves following a huge endless chain along which our life is flowing away, like drops of water between our fingers.
According to the precepts of mindfulness, happiness is not found in the future, but in the “here and now“. That is why what should be valued above all things is the here and now, this very moment as you are reading these words. You must be aware of this.
The practice of mindfulness requires meditation and focus
It is important to remember that in order to practice mindfulness, meditation is an essential technique. It is necessary to be present and fully aware, observing everything that happens, but without intervening, only exercising our own consciousness.
Once we have been able to self-observe and meditate, we have to pay conscious attention to everyday life. That is, we have to make an effort to avoid those unconnected moments, in which we act as if we were robots. Doria himself explains that even peeling an onion requires our full attention and concentration.
“The mind is a flexible mirror, adjust it and you will see the world better”
If you think you are able to stop behaving at certain times like a robot, then you already have the first solid pillar to start practicing mindfulness. So, where do we go from here? There are 5 basic steps that you have to follow. We will describe them to you below:
Stop and Observe
The first step calls for you to stop and observe yourself. In other words, stop for just a moment, be aware of what is happening in your body and what is going through your mind. Focus on the task you were doing and what feelings and emotions you were receiving. In this way you will come out of unconsciousness and allow you mind to relax.
A different way to observe is to step back. In this case we must try to see ourselves as if we were spectators of our own life. Take a step out of your mind and watch from the outside to be more aware of what you are like. Do not stay for too long in this “spectator mode”, but it is good for you to know how to change quickly in and out of it. In certain situations it can greatly enrich the perspective from which you approach different situations and problems.
Return to the Present
The third key proposed by Doria to enter the world of mindfulness requires a periodic return to consciousness. He suggests setting an alarm several times a day to remind us of the importance of stopping, breathing consciously and then returning to the task in hand.
“Walk as if you were kissing the earth with your feet”
Thich Nhat Hanh
We were talking at the beginning of the article about the importance that breathing has when practicing mindfulness. In this case Doria comments on the need to perform an activity daily, consisting of 40 breaths in a totally conscious way. Count each breath when you exhale, and don’t vary the rhythm in order to get the mind to remove the tension that all the negative thoughts and worries have been causing you throughout the day.
Accept your new thoughts and emotions
As aware as you are of yourself, emotions and thoughts will come in to your mind constantly, and, if you don’t manage them well, many will try to distance you from this state of well-being. Whether they are good or bad, welcome them and listen to them. According to Doria, it is good to be grateful for whatever comes your way.
Does the idea of mindfulness attract you? Well, these five steps will be essential for you to learn how to self-observe, meditate and to attend to daily life. The benefits of this technique will be clear as you practice each one of them.
In addition, in Exploring your Mind, we have an online course to apply Mindfulness in our Daily Life, given by Felix Torán, that can help you to enhance your well-being and raise your awareness about the world you live in.