The concept of artful living is far from new. Buddhists have been implementing the practices of mindfulness for centuries. However, given how hectic and stress-filled our lives are, the resurgence (or better yet, entrance) of mindful living into mainstream culture comes as no surprise. What the increasing interest in mindful living is giving us is not only the opportunity to improve our collective consciousness but to also lead happier and more content lives. As the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, spiritual teacher and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh states, ‘mindfulness is the energy that helps us recognize the conditions of happiness that are already present in our lives.’ So how does one go about it? Let’s find out together.
Follow the Buddhist path
The first step that will take you to your mindful living destination begins with meditation. There have been many proven benefits of meditation, and while studies have focused on both physical and mental health, we’ll be focusing on the former. By meditating at least 20 minutes a day, you allow the mind to shed anxiety, pain, and stress. You become less fearful, it helps increase your self-esteem and confidence, not to mention the benefits it has on your levels of concentration, focus – or simply put awareness, which is mindfulness in essence. Meditations help you focus on your own breath, clear your mind and reconnect with your core. It can even help the mind become more resilient to conditions such as depression. If you have troubles going at it alone, there are group meditation classes and apps that can help ease you into the practice.
Now live it
Once you begin meditating, you will already feel immensely better, but it doesn’t stop there. You need to get up after your session and face the real world with the same level of mindfulness and awareness you possess when you’re alone. Remember, mindful living is all about being in the now and not worrying about the future. Try to enjoy every minute spent at work, soak up everything you see on your commute, appreciate your surroundings and the amazing life you have. Literally, stop and smell the roses.
Let it go
Worrying about the future is just as futile as obsessing over the past. You need to free yourself from the shackles that are holding you back from thriving and being happy. Let go of old grudges, let go of old lovers and try not to dwell on your romantic past in general. Open your heart to new experiences, even give a long distance relationship a try if you think the person is worth the effort – simply take every chance life gives you and try to make the best of it. Don’t think about friendships and relationships that have gone south – it’s all in the past. If you feel like you’ve wronged a friend, try to make amends. Saying sorry and showing this type of kindness is again, one of the pillars of mindful living. You’re not only being mindful of your own but the feelings of others as well.
People that have mastered the art of mindful living often implement long walks and exercise in their lives. The pursuit of physical wellness goes hand in hand with mindful living – you are being mindful of what goes into your body and how you treat it, so it will serve you for a long time. This is why some form of exercise and even a great detox are often recommended after all a healthy mind goes hand in hand with a healthy body.
Wanting to achieve more, earn more, be better in every sense of the word is basic human nature. However, the only way you’ll achieve true happiness is by taking a deep hard look at your life and show gratitude for everything you’ve earned and accomplished so far. By being happy with the state of things you are bringing, drawing in the positive energy that will ensure that you are happy and successful in the future as well. Begin every morning with a breath that is not only mindful but also grateful. Let go of your ego, let go of the need to compare yourself to others – you are you, you are unique and there is no need to draw parallels.
Finally, don’t put yourself down, begin each day by reminding yourself of all the things you love about yourself. Be constantly aware of your positive traits, of the tremendous strength, kindness, and appreciation for the life you have. Breathe in every experience, because it will be finished the next second. Be in the now. The past is gone and the future is unforeseeable – the present is all you have, so make darn sure you relish it.