Why Mindful Living is More than Just an Empty Concept
If you’ve already heard of mindful living, you may have perhaps written it off as new age fluff – it’s understandable. The mindfulness space at large has been saturated with content, which, at times, offers a fairly reductionist view of the concept. It may be well-intentioned. But it doesn’t change the fact that you’re often left wondering how to engage with it as a lifestyle. You can practice all the exercises you want. But if you’re simply repeating them without knowing how or why they’re helping, it’s not a great starting point. You’re far less likely to stick it out over the long-term – or even know whether you’re gaining anything from your efforts.
The Real Truth About Mindful Living
Mindful living requires your participation. It isn’t a one-time solution or magic bullet to set things right before carrying on with your day. What it actually represents is a collection of skills, perspectives, and techniques that you apply in a variety of situations to either correct your decision-making process or improve the quality of your life. Mindful living isn’t a defined technique. It’s an umbrella term for which your entire practice of mindfulness is included.
Mindful living is the process you engage in every day – emphasis on the word process. It’s something you build up over time and will constantly evolve based on your current needs and how far you’ve progressed in your personal development. It’s not a fixed quantity but is more akin to a way of examining your life relative to your present challenges. Your version will undoubtedly look different from the next person’s.
The truth is it can be hard work – especially in the beginning. At its core, being mindful is founded on the willingness to look at yourself in a critical light and really ask some tough questions about your character. It requires not only your active participation but the ability to put your ego aside and accept you’re not above reproach. This act of acknowledging and working through your shortcomings is about taking on the mantle of your personal responsibility.
The Long-Term Benefits of Mindful Living
It’s important to point out here that long-term benefits require your long-term effort. You can’t dip your toe in the water and decide you can’t swim. You need to make an honest effort. But once you do get into the groove of your own practice, you will start noticing some things change for you in the short-term. You won’t have to endure an endless wait to see a return for your time invested.
The most immediate benefit will be seen in your decision-making process. The act of mindful living is rooted in your actions, and for those actions to come into being, there’s a choice that needs to be made. It’s no secret we make both good and bad decisions. And it’s ok to make mistakes, but you don’t have to continue making them. Being mindful of your thoughts and pausing for consideration before you commit yourself is the very essence of mindfulness.
When you come from a place of groundedness, you become a match for more positive experiences. It heightens your awareness of other’s needs, which allows you to form considered responses instead of re-acting in “fight or flight.” This, in turn, increases your ability for problem-solving as well as improve the quality of your relationships. Instead of acting defensively, you can empathize and show compassion when necessary.
In short, your ability to communicate improves significantly. You’re able to tap into your emotional intelligence and acknowledge that you’re not always the most important person in the room. You form more authentic relations – not just with love interests – but with friends, family, and even co-workers. You become a better person. And the more you see yourself having a positive effect on people, the more it boosts your self-esteem.
How to Begin a Practice of Mindfulness That Actually Works
So for all this talk of mindful living – how do you engage in it? But more importantly, how do you make it work for you? The key, really, is to start low and slow. Perhaps the worst thing you can do is to make a list of mindfulness practices and cram them into your life all at once. In the first instance, you’re creating unrealistic expectations of yourself, and secondly, you’re almost certain to burn yourself out after a bright start and most likely right it off as another ‘failed experiment.’
The best way to assure your success is by using a method called ‘habit stacking.’ Mindful living as a lifestyle is all about encouraging an integrative approach. So, to do this, you take one teaching, technique, or exercise and focus on that alone for 21-days – or at the very least a week. 21-days is the minimum amount of time it takes for the brain to form the neural connections that create the subconscious response we know of as ‘habit.’
By approaching mindfulness in this way, it allows you to streamline your focus and make changes that you can actually stick to over the long-term. Mindful living isn’t a race. It requires patience. Life isn’t going to leave you in the lurch if you’re not going at breakneck speed. Accept that this time, you’re going to delay gratification and take the road less traveled by making small changes that have a compounding effect over-time. It’s a marathon – not a sprint.
Tools for Mindful Living
You can apply the concept of mindful living in an almost inexhaustible number of ways. The act of mindfulness as a meditation can be transferred to any repetitive task that requires your focus and concentration. But there’s slightly more to being mindful than that… There are two distinct approaches. The first includes the traditional techniques and exercises that form part of your daily routine. But in addition, you can adopt a variety of perspectives to question your decisions.
They’ve been divided up here into a list of techniques and perspectives for quick reference.
These are the bread and butter of what you may already be familiar with as mindfulness. They’re mostly common techniques. But it’d be remiss not to mention them at all.
Mindfulness Meditation: This is what many people think of when they hear the term mindfulness. It’s a very accessible form of meditation for those at the beginning stages of their journey. It involves simply closing your eyes and focusing on your breath – in and out – pulling yourself back to this center point any time your concentration wanes.
Journaling: The act of journaling is more than simply recounting your day, as the focus is on how you felt in response to certain events and how you might or could respond better in the future. The whole point of writing out your thoughts is to get out of your headspace. It gives you the opportunity to discover things you were aware you knew. It’s an entirely different process to thinking.
Listening: One of the greatest respects you can pay to someone is to simply hold space and listen to them. However, it’s also an exercise in patience and allowing yourself to take on the views of others. You can listen both in the verbal sense and to your own internal dialogue as well as the bodily reactions that serve as emotional responses.
For the most part, mindful living comes from adopting alternate perspectives. This is where you can really make your practice your own. At first, you may rely on the insight of other teachers, which you can add to your repertoire – but at some point, you will no doubt create your own as your journey progresses. The purpose here is to challenge your reality. They represent mental hurdles designed to get you to stop, think, and act differently when needed.
Here are some examples to ask yourself:
Is this [thing] a true need or a simply a want?
Is this [thing/place/person] serving me or simply an attachment?
How am I wrong in this moment?
Am I putting forward my best effort, and if not, why?
Would I accept this behavior from someone else?
Would I say these words to this person’s face?
Why do I feel this way?
These are just a few examples. The potential for finding and/or creating more of these is near unlimited. The idea is to create a set of guiding principles for yourself that helps align your actions with your what you see as being the best version of yourself.
Mindful Living is a Journey Not an Event
Your journey with mindfulness really is what you make of it. Don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap of instant gratification. There’s no finishing line or prizes on offer. It’s about the development of skills that improve the quality of not just your own life, but those around you. Don’t get too hung up about how much progress you’re making. Leave your expectations at the door. The only thing they’re likely to do is create limitations. Simply enjoy the process of discovering who you are and accept that whatever arises is only here to challenge you at the level you’re to engage.
Sam is a Beyond Quantum Healing Hypnosis practitioner. He creates profound transformations in those he works with, helping them resolve deep-seated emotional traumas, chronic health issues, and discover their true purpose in life. If you’re ready to take the next step in your personal development and healing journey, you can find out more at website.