The intention to live a more mindful life is continuing to grow and touch an increasing amount of people. In fact, 2014 has been dubbed ‘the year of mindful living.’
May 2015 only grow and deepen this mindful revolution and may these tips I share today serve you to find more peace and purpose this year.
Highly Mindful People
I have the privilege of knowing some wonderful people who are truly an inspiration in the way that they live and breathe mindfulness in their daily lives. Some of them have chosen a contemplative lifestyle as monks or swamis but most of them are everyday people living everyday lives.
These highly mindful people all have certain things I’ve noticed that they do differently to the majority. Things that help them lead a more mindful and fulfilling life.
Here are the 7 key habits of highly mindful people and some tips on how you can integrate these habits into your life.
1. They Hold Thoughts Lightly
Highly mindful people consistently monitor and observe what’s going on in their minds. They pay attention to what thoughts are arising in the mind but they hold them lightly.What do I mean by ‘holding thoughts lightly?’ They don’t believe their thoughts and they don’t take them all that seriously. They’re also willing to question any conditioned patterns of thought and belief that do not serve them.
Through this kind of self-observation, they are able to step back and watch the mind instead of being swept in its current. They therefore free themselves from conditioned, reactive ways of living and thinking. Any time you watch thoughts, you are being mindful. Start listening to the voice in your head as often as you can, especially any repetitive thought patterns.
As you listen, aim to do so as an impartial witness. You’ll soon realize, “there is the voice, and here I am listening to it. I am not the mind.”
2. They Feel What They’re Feeling
Mindfulness isn’t about being perpetually happy. It’s about the complete acceptance of the present moment as it is. That means feeling what is here to be felt in this moment, without trying to resist or control it. Even highly mindful people feel difficult emotions. They feel anger, sadness and fear sometimes, but what sets them apart is that they don’t try to avoid or deny these emotions. They acknowledge what they’re feeling and allow it to be as it is. They know that emotions, both pleasant and unpleasant, come and go as a natural part of life.
That doesn’t mean they can’t respond to create change. In fact, they’re more able to do so. By ‘being with’ life’s challenges in a mindful way, the highly mindful are able to remain centered and calm in the midst of it all. They’re able to respond rather than react and make wiser choices.
They also avoid excessive grasping at positive emotions. The paradox that highly mindful people understand, is that perpetually chasing positive emotions very often pushes them away and keeps us stuck in ‘doing’ mode. They know that what makes us most fulfilled, what brings us the most peace, is actually simply being present in the moment, being with it all – the pleasant and unpleasant.
3. They Accept the Transient Nature of Things
Perhaps the most fundamental law of life is that every thing is constantly changing. Nothing is permanent.
We can listen with our ears and observe what sounds constantly arise, unfold and then disappear. We see with our eyes how over time the seasons change, how things age, and how the world continues to transform. Sensations, emotions and thoughts are always coming and going in awareness.
We’re born on this planet, we grow up, grow older and eventually pass away. Highly mindful people understand, accept and contemplate the transient nature of things. Because of this, they are aware of the preciousness and sacredness of life and they savor each moment, and each day.
Because they accept what is transient, they become firmly rooted in the silent unchanging awareness that is at the core of their being; the space in which all that is transient comes and goes.
4. They Meditate
You can be mindful without meditating, but all highly mindful people I know have a regular practice of meditation. The testimonies of these folks attests to the fact that a consistent practice helps you stay awake and present during the ups and downs of daily life.
Try to maintain a daily routine of at least ten minutes a day, preferably first thing in the morning. That way, the energy of mindfulness can carry you through the rest of your day.
5. They Do One Thing At a Time
There is a myth that multitasking makes us more productive; in reality, it drains us faster and makes us less efficient.
Studies have found that when people are dividing their attention (which is what multitasking is: flitting your attention back and forth quickly from one thing to another), it takes them 50 percent longer to accomplish a task and they’re 50 percent more likely to make errors.
The highly mindful focus on doing things just one thing at a time. They do each task with full awareness, one by one, moment by moment. They also take breaks before transitioning to another task. It’s a more enjoyable, more efficient and more nourishing way to work and live.
Why not try this more mindful way of working as an experiment for the next week? See how it feels (and hey, let us know in the comments how you go).
6. They Turn Everyday Tasks Into Mindful Moments
Much of our daily life is taken up by everyday tasks such as housework, shopping, commuting, dressing and showering etc. Instead of thinking of routine activities as ‘just boring chores’, highly mindful people make these tasks into mindfulness moments.
For instance, if doing the laundry, they don’t rush through it simply ‘getting it done’. Instead, they savor the moment, feeling the textures of the fabrics and perhaps noticing how fresh they smell. Even the folding becomes a sort of yoga practice, moving mindfully, attentive to each fold. In this way, every little act becomes a sacred ritual.
Perhaps you could choose one activity to try this out with (brushing your teeth for example) and make it your mindfulness practice. Doing this you may soon come to realize that there is no such thing as a mundane moment, only mundane states of mind.
7. They Protect and Nurture Their Minds (and Bodies)
Highly mindful people are custodians of their bodies and minds. They make a habit of listening to their bodies and minds and discerning what is nourishing and what is draining. They deliberately and actively cultivate healthy ways of being. They also avoid unhealthy ways of being. They pay careful attention to what they consume, ensuring they eat well and get enough rest and physical activity.
They’re equally careful not to feed their minds with ‘junk food’ like excessive TV, social media, mindless gaming, violence and trash magazines.
It doesn’t mean they never indulge in a glass of vino or watch movies. It just means that they have mostly nourishing things in their lives and not too much that is draining.
They treat their minds and bodies with love and respect, knowing that being kind to themselves is a gesture of love towards all life and makes mindful living much easier.
If you’d like to cultivate a more healthy and balanced way of being, check out my blog post about ‘the beautiful minds challenge‘ and try it out for yourself.
You might also enjoy discovering 11 ways I habitually integrate mindfulness into my day.