When I heard of the concept known as mindful living, I had to wonder: what could that possibly mean? Isn’t all our living mindful? I spend a lot of time thinking things through in my head, after all.
But it turns out that being mindful is more than just using your mind. It means I’m fully engaged with what’s happening in my life at present. Again, this may sound simplistic or silly: aren’t we always engaged with the present tense? The short answer to that is, of course, no. So many of us let our minds wander and think about the past or the future — and worry about what has or will happened during those times. We forget about today because we’re so fixated on a time that’s, well, not today.
Once I discovered the idea of mindfulness and my own ability to redirect and center my thoughts, though, all of that wondering — and worrying — started to subside. And, on the path to achieving my current sense of enlightenment, I’ve found the following four methods for living with intention to be effective and easy to follow. Pick them up and you, too, can join me on my mindful living journey:
Busy schedules are so 2017. We’re constantly traveling, running around, working, texting, taking quick showers and going to bed. It seems impossible to slip personal time into that time frame, but its’ not.
I’ve made a point to make self-care the centerpiece of my mindfulness regimen. Why? First of all, it feels wonderful to give myself a little break. I light some candles, turn on my favorite acoustic tunes and hop into a hot bathtub for some serious rest and relaxation. This quiet time helps me to work through any lingering negativity from the day, too, so it serves me well.
There are plenty of quick, easy ways to relax, so, even on a busy day, try and carve out a short spurt of “me” time. If you can, though, I would suggest upping it to at least a half-hour because it’s enjoyable and useful.
I enjoy meditating in the morning, and I’m not alone in that: it’s one of the best ways to start your day. I love it because I can do it no matter where in the world I am, too, which means I’m able to stick to my routine everywhere I visit.
Of course, you don’t have to meditate to practice mindful living. It’s more important that you get yourself into a habit of doing something each morning that you enjoy, that centers you and gets you ready to face the day. So, you may want to invest in a new coffee machine, so your first cup of the day is rich, flavorful and worth sipping for a while. You could exercise or spend time styling your hair… no matter what it is, you begin your day with intention if you begin it with a routine.
I travel a lot, so sometimes I’m not in control of the environment that surrounds me. A bustling hostel or cookie-cutter hotel room isn’t the perfect backdrop for relaxation and thoughtfulness, so I try my best to create a bit of atmosphere wherever I go.
In hotel rooms, I’ll bring a candle, slippers and cozy throw blanket with me so I feel comfortable. Hostels are a bit tougher, but even a relaxing essential oil spray for my sheets helps me ease into rest and sleep. These little touches help you press the reset button, which is what mindfulness is all about.
Again, this might sound silly for an avid traveler to adhere to. A backpack full of rolled clothes or a suitcase filled to the brim is hard to organize pre-trip, let alone to keep organized throughout your travel. But I’ve made it an essential part of my home and travel life that everything around me must stay organized for the sake of my mindfulness and clear-headedness.
That’s because physical clutter can make us feel mentally cluttered, too. Everything you see is going to grab your attention, even if only for a millisecond. A messy-looking bookshelf or desk overflowing with papers will bother you for even longer because you’ll think about how you really should reorganize those books and file those papers, but you just haven’t and… in no time at all, you’re completely out of the meditative, mindful living zone.
Taking time to organize, clean and get rid of what you don’t need can be stress relieving, to boot. So, as you work to clear your mind of tension-causing clutter, do the same in your home — I’ve found it helps me relax there and on the road.
I must say the most vital step in living with intention is not taking lightly the decision to do so. Once I decided to be more mindful, I made swift and serious changes to clear my mind of everything but the present moment. Not only has it enhanced my travels, but my entire life. I can’t wait to see what a little bit of mindful living can offer you, too.