Practicing Mindfulness

Last night, I watched a few videos of Thich Nhat Hanh on YouTube. He is a Zen Buddhist monk from Vietnam. His teachings about mindfulness caught my attention.

Mindfulness is about being present. It is being aware and conscious about everything that is happening and every single thing that you are doing. By being mindful, we are able to enjoy our lives more. We get to appreciate the small things around us.

One simple example of being mindful, as discussed by Thich Nhat Hanh, is by looking at the sky. As you look at the blue sky, try to concentrate on your breathing. Try to feel the air coming into and out of your body. Then start to appreciate the beautiful sky. Another example is when you are drinking a cup of coffee. Focus on your cup. Don’t do anything else. Smell the aroma and close your eyes. Empty your mind from all the tasks and other things that you’re about to do when you get back to work. Try to feel the coffee as it flows from the cup, to your mouth and down to your throat.

I am an avid reader of Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits. Actually, he was the one who introduced Thich Nhat Hanh to me. In his post The Mindfulness Guide for the Super Busy: How to Live Life to the Fullest, he gave several tips on how to become mindful. I will mention some of them here in my post.

Mindful individuals are advocates of single tasking, which means doing just one thing at a time, whether it is work, household chores or recreation. If you are fully focused with what you are doing and other distractions are eliminated, you will definitely enjoy the activity and at the same time achieve quality output. When taking a bath, just take a bath. Feel the water flowing down your body. When writing, just write. Focus on the words and ideas that you are writing. These things should also be done slowly and carefully. When working on a project, don’t rush. Focus on the task at hand, don’t do anything else.

Always be present when dealing with someone. Listen carefully to what he or she is saying. Pay attention. Talk slowly and clearly. By doing this, you’ll get to enjoy your time being with that person and at the same time, he or she will also enjoy your company. It’s a two way benefit.

Always remember to put spaces between tasks. Don’t jump in immediately to another task after finishing one. This can become a stress factor. Grab a few minutes (probably five), and simply do nothing. Go somewhere quiet and do some breathing exercise. Drink a glass of water or simply close your eyes and clear your mind. Remind yourself to be present at all times. These things will keep you sharp and prepare you for your next task.

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