“Where did the day go?”—Is this a question you often ask yourself?
Were you so busy getting things done that you not only lost track of the time, but also of yourself?
How can you stay mindful throughout the day so you remain aware and in control of your life?
It’s all in your head
Being mindful is being fully aware and present in your life. This means turning your attention inwards to your thoughts, feelings and actions as you go about your day.
Right now though, most of your attention is turned outwards to where things are happening.
However, even though you seem to be experiencing things in the outer environment, all knowing only happens inside your mind.
For example, even though you see a book or a table in front of you, knowing that it is a book or a table happens inside your mind, as a thought.
You, the inner witness, are aware of your thoughts.
You are not your thoughts
When you are conscious of things and beings outside, it’s easy to know that you are different from what you are experiencing. So, you never take the book or the table to be you.
However, when it comes to your thoughts, you identify with them. You forget that since you are aware of your thoughts, you cannot be your thoughts.
For example, you may have caught yourself saying, “ I’m confused about this,” “I’m sure this is right,” or, “I doubt if this is true.”
The same also goes for your feelings. Although the sensation of feelings is felt in the body, they first arise as thoughts in the mind.
You identify with your feelings and may say, “I’m sad,” “I’m excited about the trip!” or “I disappointed that my team didn’t win.”
The key to staying mindful is to not identify with the thoughts in your mind. You are the inner witness of your thoughts.
Remember: I am not the mind. I have a mind
How to be mindful
The main reason for not being mindful is forgetting that you are the inner witness. Only when you forget who you really are, can outer circumstances, things and people drag you away from your peaceful center.
The solution then, is to constantly bring your attention to yourself. This is being mindful.
Here are four ways:
Slow down: When you rush through the day trying to get everything done, it’s easy to lose sight of yourself. Even when you’ve done everything for the day, there’ll always be things to do tomorrow. That’s just how life is. It’ll keep throwing things at you. The trick is to be alert to catch what is important, and deal with it mindfully. You can’t be alert if you’re rushing, so slow down!
Take regular time-outs: Take regular breaks throughout the day to recharge and ground yourself alone. Even if it means going to the washroom to be by yourself, it is worth it.
Breathe into the present: Try being mindful by setting a timer every hour or couple of hours to take three slow, deep breaths and be aware of what you are thinking and feeling. It can totally change your perspective on things and give you clarity of mind.
Stop filling up your life with unnecessary activities: It’s true that modern life is fast and busy, but we ourselves keep adding more things to our already full days. Not all of the activities that we add are worthwhile or necessary. The common activities that provide very little value for time are engaging in social media, surfing the Internet, or watching TV.
While we do need to take breaks to do things for pleasure, the trick is to be in control by setting strict time limits. This is because these media excite and agitate the mind—not the nicest things to have if you are trying to cultivate mindfulness.
Stop identifying with your thoughts and stay mindful
Slow down, take regular time-outs alone, breathe into the present, and be vigilant of what you are impressing on your mind through the media that you engage in—these are some simple ways you can mentally step away from your thoughts and stop identifying with them.
Then, you will increase your chances of staying mindful throughout the day.
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