Several years ago, I was participating in a personal development program by author Raphael Cushnir. Always seeking to learn more, I asked him what the most powerful practice or program was that helped him in his own personal growth. I was expecting him to mention a book I could read or a program I could sign up for, but his answer surprised me. He said that having a daily mindfulness practice had made the most powerful impact in his growth.
So there it was – no fancy program to go through, no book to read. Just practicing being mindful on a daily basis. And having implemented my own daily mindful practice since then, I agree that it makes a tremendous difference.
Finding the right practice might be a challenge for some. Many people assume that the practice has to be meditation, but it doesn’t have to be. I tried meditation and found it very difficult to implement as a daily practice. So I experimented until I found Tai Chi – the slow movements allow me to be present in the moment while not having to sit still for long periods of time. Once I finish my form, I find it much easier to be still and be in the moment.
What else can you try? There are many choices, including Yoga, Qi-gong, Chanting, Walking meditation, and Mindful Breathing. Ideally you pick a time in the morning when you can do your practice to get your day off to a good start.
But what about throughout the day? In our busy lives, we often rush from one task to another or one place to another, feeling like there is always so much to do. Or we put ourselves on auto-pilot and get into our car, and before we know it we get out and don’t even remember what happened in between. The trick is to remind ourselves to stay present as the day goes on.
You can choose a reminder that works for you: Set alarms at different times of the day or pick specific actions that will remind you to be present (for example, whenever I do the dishes, or whenever I get into my car, or whenever I get up from my seat).
Then just take a minute to be wherever you are. Just focus on your breath and feel. What is going on in your heart right now? Don’t think about the past or future, just be in the moment. Really feel your body. How are you doing right now, really? Continue to breathe and just notice what is going on right now. You might move from checking in with yourself to listening to or observing your environment. What do you hear? What do you see? What do you smell? What do you feel?
In our goal-oriented culture, we often feel that happiness comes from achieving our goals, so we continue to strive and work hard to get to that goal. But happiness research has shown us that this is not the case. Happiness comes from the pleasure of the journey. The key is to enjoy the here and now while we are working toward a goal. For more info see: How to Set Goals that Make You Happy
Are you ready to be present and mindful so you can be happier?