Many of us spend too much time dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. This lack of attention to the present moment can have several unwanted effects, like stress, anxiety, and unhappiness. We simply forget to live in the present and miss out on our own lives.
Fortunately, there’s a way out. It’s called mindfulness, a practice that allows us to live fully and appreciate the moment we’re living in. Mindfulness is about noticing the beauty and joy of the world around us. It’s about being present.
From an emotional point of view, it allows us to gain control over our thoughts and feelings, creating inner peace. It also boosts creativity, engagement, and performance at work.
Mindfulness is easy to practice at home and in the workplace—basically, it consists of meditation and exercises.
You may begin with something very simple, like inhaling and exhaling 3-5 times mindfully. Find a comfortable position. If you have a tendency to fall asleep while lying down, sitting may be a better choice.
You can either close your eyes or focus them on one spot, keeping them relaxed. Pay attention to the present moment and notice your feelings, without judging them. Accept them. Just watch them come and go. Notice your breathing and take slow, deep breaths. When you lose focus, calmly bring your thoughts back to your breath.
If you feel tempted to quit, stay in control. Chances are you’ll have many thoughts running through your head—that’s normal. Meditation isn’t about emptying your mind and getting frustrated when a thought comes up. It’s about gently bringing your mind back every time you lose focus. The more you do it, the better you get.
Try to make this practice part of your routine. If you can choose a time and associate it with a daily task, that’s even better. For example, you can do it after a meal, or after brushing your teeth in the morning. When you notice the benefits of this practice, you’ll probably want to do it more often.
The next step is to raise your awareness during other activities. For example, you can eat mindfully. Instead of being distracted by your smartphone or television, pay attention to the texture, taste, smell, and appearance of your food. You can do it for just a couple of minutes at first and then gradually increase the distraction-free time. Avoid the temptation of multitasking when eating and focus on your meal instead.
You can practice mindfulness when you wake up. Focus on your breathing, inhaling and exhaling deeply. Listen to the sounds around you. Pay attention to your body, your movements, your surroundings. Notice your facial expression. Can you turn a frown into a smile?
You can do the same while walking. There is a whole world outside full of colors, sounds, and life.
When you’re at work, take a moment and ask yourself: “How am I feeling?” If you notice negative emotions, like anger or anxiety, don’t fight them. Acknowledge them. Try to understand them and bring your attention to your breath. Slow down your breathing.
Notice the beauty of the trees along city streets. Smell the aroma of your cup of coffee and relish its flavor. Feel the water running over your hands when you wash them. Immerse yourself in activities you love, whether that means painting, dancing, cooking, or running. Fully listen to people when they are speaking to you, without judging or thinking about how you’ll respond.
You can practice mindfulness at any moment of the day. Until you get used to it, you can set reminders on your smartphone. Make meditation and mindfulness a habit. Even a few minutes a day can make a huge difference.
Matheus R. Chaud
I am a native Brazilian Portuguese speaker with extensive experience in translation, proofreading, editing, subtitling, and quality assurance.