Many of us are often confused with the concept of consciousness. Sometimes we use it as a mere mental activity and sometimes we think it means merely being awake. In our day-to-day activities, we attend to so many chores, big or small. ][But most of these are done mechanically and unconsciously. Even when it comes to some of our simple habits, we are in a hurry to get to the next one or feel that it is a waste of time to give undue importance to small things which we do out of habit.
If we can grow conscious to what we do, we can make a big difference to our lives and enhance the quality of our lives. And we grow our conscious awareness through the practice of mindfulness. Through mindfulness, we get in touch with our individual awareness of our unique thoughts, memories, and feelings.
Since our conscious experiences are constantly shifting and changing, for instance, one moment you may be focused on reading this, the next moment, your consciousness may shift to a memory of conversation you had earlier with someone. This ever shifting stream of thoughts can change from one moment to another. Altered levels of consciousness may cause states of constant stress, anxiety and lack of focus.
Bringing your attention consciously to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment, you can develop complete awareness of your thoughts and emotions. Being aware of your mind, body and feelings creates a feeling of wholeness rather than being overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
“Peace of mind arrives the moment you make peace with the content of your mind .”Rasheed Ogunlaru
Mindfulness changes your state of awareness
At the most basic level, mindfulness is simply being aware of what’s happening as it is happening. When you become aware of the workings of your mind, in the moment, you deliberately direct your awareness back into the now and focus your attitude there.
It alters your state of distractedness, inattention, and confusion to being more aware, present, focused and attentive. This helps you to react less to emotional or situational impulses or when things don’t turn out as you expected.
Instead of automatically falling into the stream of past or future that ignites unhelpful emotions, one can draw their attention to their present moment. The more you are mindful, the more is your ability to improve your patterns of thinking. Purposefully concentrating on what’s happening, reduces negative mindset or the tendency to label things as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. You reflect more on the mind to make conscious choices in a state of altered awareness.
Cultivating mindfulness habit into your everyday life
“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness.” —Jon Kabat-Zinn
If you are interested in the development and evolution of your own consciousness, the most important thing is to cultivate awareness of your conscious self. By cultivating a habit of mindfulness in our daily activities, you can avoid knee-jerk reactions to your immediate responses and can respond more constructively, and without judgment.
Mindfulness isn’t necessarily limited to certain breathing practices or to focus your attention on certain objects. Neither it isn’t just about knowing that you are hearing, seeing or observing. It’s about doing so in a way that creates space for insight and has more to do with becoming self aware of your thoughts and emotions in the moment, and to take responsibility for your sense of self. By cultivating an objective sense of self you can avoid getting lost in the subjective drama of your ever-changing inner conscious experiences.
Making Mindfulness a way of life
Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience.Jon Kabat-Zinn
In everyday life we rarely pay full attention to anything. Since our conscious awareness is like a stream, it is constantly changing. The way your thoughts drift from one topic to another can feel effortless even when thoughts you are having are different. And we feel resistance inside of us when we try to be at peace with ourselves. The more we try, the more we become aware of our buzzing thoughts, or emotions. And resistance is born out of our very effort to be peaceful.
Mindfulness on the other is based on the very foundation that we are innately whole, that our emotions and thoughts are messengers, and that awareness is the key. But the most fundamental thing underlying it is that of your ability to accept and respond to your every experience, as opposed to engaging in a reactive or dismissive attitude.
Being open to your experiences in the moment enables you to step back and get a proper perspective on the situation you are in. As a result, you not only stay connected to your experience, but also identify yourself as something more than your experience. This enables you to accept the feel yourself as the spacious openness of conscious awareness.
However, a peaceful mind does not mean a mind devoid of thoughts, sensations and emotions. When we begin to be mindful, we think we must suppress all thoughts and feelings. Concentrating on breath or an object should not done for suppression of whatever is arising in your conscious awareness. Because suppression only leads to avoidance or denial. Instead when you accept, observe and follow what arises in the light of awareness, it leads to enlightenment of your true self.
Mindfulness & State of well-being
Training your mind to be in the present moment is the number one key to making healthier choices.Susan Albers
Everyday distractions can keep you from experiencing the joy of simply being— a state of body and mind in which you feel whole, grounded and deeply connected to yourself.
State of well-being can be achieved by a regular practice of meditation. And this can be done in different ways. Insight meditation is where you observe thoughts and emotions or sensations that arise in your awareness without judgment or expectation. This increases your focus and helps you maintain your physical as well as mental well-being.
Then there is zen meditation which says you must have a very quiet mind. It involves disciplining oneself, being aware of every moment or developing present moment awareness. Yoga is a form of meditation where you join together the mind, the body and the higher self. But no matter what system you follow, or you go from one to another, freedom is essential as it is the intrinsic nature of the mind. Once you see the truth with your own light of awareness, you will be able to go beyond perception and be available to your moment.
Mindfulness helps in shifting your perspective
Our thoughts are invisible, yet they have power to influence how we perceive the work around us. We experience negative and positive thoughts. They either make you feel you are capable of great things, or they might make you feel you aren’t good enough or helpless at times. Whether it’s thinking that you are capable or that you are helpless, thoughts get their power from our body’s reaction to them. So, when you bring your thoughts into your conscious awareness, you develop an ability to change them or shift your perspective, so your body responds accordingly. It can change your perspective to more positive and more connected to the world around you.
Do not limit your mindfulness practices just to few breathing sessions. Extend them to other areas of your life, like for instance, hobbies and activities that you enjoy can be forms of meditation. When you become engrossed in an activity, you find your flow and in a way, you are doing light meditation. Indulging in your creative pursuits can be a great way to be present and mindful.
Slow down when you are doing your daily chores. For instance, making conscious choices in choosing what to eat, chewing your food or eating mindfully, being present to your surroundings when you are walking, or staying aware of your body sensations while experiencing stress etc., can help you tap into feelings of peace and joy.
Practice deep breathing techniques. Instead of taking short rapid breaths, practice abdominal breathing. Slowing down and becoming conscious of your inhalations and exhalations calms you further and increases your energy.
Welcome emotions and thoughts that are present, without trying to suppress or judge. No matter how uncomfortable your emotions may make you feel, remind yourself that they are temporary. Treat emotions as messengers and welcome your experience just as it is instead of negating or denying.
Nourish your intention to be more in being in your conscious awareness. Be patient with yourself and build your mindfulness practice everyday, a little and often. Experiencing your wholeness enables you to recover a sense of unchanging and ever present peace and well-being.