A mindful life is worth the effort.
It is a life where you awaken from the dream state – the state of having your mind anywhere but in the present moment, locked in thoughts about what you are going to do later, about something someone else said, about something you are stressing about or angry about.
The state of mind where you are lost in your smartphone and social media.
Being awake means you are not missing life as you walk through it. Being awake means you are conscious of what is going on inside you as it happens and so can make more conscious choices rather than acting on your impulses all the time.
You forget. You forget, over and over, to be awake. And that is OK. Being mindful is a process of forgetting, and then remembering. Repeatedly. Just as breathing is a process of exhaling, and then inhaling, repeatedly.
Mindful living is not just one thing. It is not just meditation. Nor is it just focusing on the sensations around you, right now in this moment.
Mindful living is a set of very related tools, perhaps all different ways of getting at the same thing, but each useful in its own regard.
Meditation is where mindful living starts. And it is not complicated: You can sit still for even just 1 minute a day to start with (work up to 3-5 minutes after a week), and turn your attention to your body and then your breath.
Notice when your thoughts wander from your breath, and gently return to the breath. Repeat until the minute is up.
Be Awake is not being in the dream state (mind wandering into a train of thought, getting lost in the online world, thinking about past offenses, stressing about the future, etc.) but being awake to the present, to what is.
Being awake is something you can do throughout the day, all the time, if you remember. Remembering is the trick.
You are not your urges, you do not have to act on your urges, and this helps you change all your other habits. Watch your urge to check e-mail or social media, to eat something sweet or fried, to drink alcohol, to watch TV, to be distracted, to procrastinate.
These urges will come and go, and you do not have to act on them.
You have ideals, all the time. You have an ideal that your day will go perfect, that people will be kind and respectful, that you will be perfect, that you will pass an exam, that you will never fail. You know those ideals are not real, they do not come true, they are not realistic.
But you still have them, and they cause you stress and fears and grief over something/someone you have lost. By letting go of ideals, you can let go of our suffering.
Accept people and life as they are. When you stop trying to change a loved one, and accepted him for who he is, you are able to just be with him and enjoy time with him.
This acceptance has the same effect for anything you do – accept a co-worker, a child, a spouse, but also accept a bad situation, an unpleasant feeling, an annoying sound.
When you stop trying to fight the way things are, when you accept what is, you are much more at peace.
Let go of expectations, it is useful. It is useful to watch your expectations with an upcoming situation, with a new project or business, and see that it is not real and that it is causing you stress and disappointment.
You cause your own pain, and you can relieve it by letting go of the expectations that are causing it.
The fear of discomfort is huge – it causes you to be stuck in your old bad habits, to not start the business you want to start, because you tend to stick to the known and comfortable rather than try something unknown and uncomfortable.
It is why you do not eat vegetables or exercise, why you eat junk, why you do not start something new. But you can be OK with discomfort, with practice. Start with things that are a little uncomfortable, and keep expanding your comfort zone.
When you try to do something uncomfortable, or try to give up something you like or are used to, you will find resistance. But you can just watch the resistance, and be curious about it.
Watch your resistance to things that annoy you – a loud sound that interrupts your concentration. It is not the sound that is the problem, it is your resistance to the sound.
The same is true of resistance to food you do not like, to being too cold or hot, to being hungry. The problem is not the sensation of the food, cold, heat or hunger – it is your resistance to them. Watch the resistance, and feel it melt.
Too often you are stuck in your ways, and think you know how things should be, how people are. Instead, be curious. Find out. Experiment. Let go of what you think you know.
When you start a new project or venture, if you feel the fear of failure, instead of thinking, you are going to fail, try thinking, let’s see. Let’s find out.
And then there is not the fear of failure, but the joy of being curious and finding out. Learn to be OK with not knowing.
Be Grateful. You complain about everything. But life is a miracle. Find something to be grateful about in everything you do.
Be grateful when you are doing a new habit, and you will stick to it longer. Be grateful when you are with someone, and you will be happier with them.
Life is amazing, if you learn to appreciate it.
You think you control things, but that is only an illusion. Your obsession with organization and goals and productivity are rooted in the illusion that you can control life.
But life is uncontrollable, and just when you think you have things under control, something unexpected comes up to disrupt everything.
And then you are frustrated because things did not go the way you wanted. Instead, practice letting go of control, and learn to flow.
Be Compassionate. Compassion for others can change the way you feel about the world, on a day-to-day basis. And compassion for yourself is life-changing.
These two things need remembering, though, so mindful living is about remembering to be compassionate after you forget.