Adventures in Mindful Living
Whether you’re applying mindfulness to your relationships, career, health, or as a spiritual practice, you’ll find helpful stories, tips, and articles that will enrich your understanding of topics such as psychology, meditation, neuroscience, and personal development.
Until we learn how to listen to our own internal dialogue without judgment, how will we ever truly know ourselves?
When we are kids we are wide open to our intuitive feelings about what brings us lasting meaning and contentment. However, as we get older our thinking mind gets more powerful and full of should’s, comparisons, judgment and expectations. We can get disconnected from our “beginner’s mind”, as the Buddha called it. This is the frame of mind that allows us to bring curiosity when learning something new, including learning to understand our own thought patterns.
Inevitably as we age, our “beginner’s mind” starts to dull as we get more set in our ways, which closes us off to curiosity and learning, if we don’t exercise it regularly.
Scientific evidence is clear that development of this sharper awareness and openness to the unknown — termed in research as a state of “mindfulness” — can be the most effective way to get back in touch with who we really are. What drives us, gives us a sense of purpose, and ultimately — what kind of life we want to cultivate. Taking this inward journey, looking at our mind’s patterns and emotional and physical responses to those thoughts is the root of emotional intelligence, well-being and purpose.
As human beings, we have the ability to heighten awareness of our basic senses of sight, hearing, smell, feeling, and taste in any moment when we bring our full attention to the colors, textures, or aromas around us.
As we begin our inner exploration we start to do the same with our sixth sense, our conscious awareness. With focused intention to listen, feel or see we naturally heighten our awareness. When that is turned outward we can more clearly recognize feelings and the states of mind of the people around us. Even more importantly, when our attention is turned inward in a state of mindfulness, we learn how to recognize our own feelings and where they are coming from.
The more often we use this capacity the more information we can gather on why we feel the way we feel in different situations and start to recognize what activities, people, and situations really bring us lasting contentment and fulfillment.
If we want to be healthier and more balanced in every area of our life — health, work, relationships, self-care — first we must clarify what is most meaningful to us. This can be challenging when we are being told what will make us happy from everyone and everything around us. Constantly bombarded with too much information, it can be difficult to trust our own thoughts and feelings.
In the words of Sam Harris, author of Waking-Up, “Our minds are all we have. They are all we have ever had, and they are all we can offer others.”
How can we streamline our mind to be more focused and clear on creating the life we want? Here are a few @SkillfulMeans tips to get started:
- Set aside a few minutes each morning or evening to set your intention for the upcoming day. Imagine how you want your day to go and how you are going to stay focused on what’s most important in your life right now.
- Each week set aside 10–15 minutes for a few mindful activities such as journaling, meditation, yoga, or even a routine chore like folding laundry attended to with a clear state of mind. Remove all digital distractions to improve your focus. Turn off your phone, WiFi connection, television, and radio to immerse yourself in the activity at hand.
- Each month set aside time for some deep work, whether that is journaling, a creative brainstorming session, or a half day meditation retreat. Choose a specific issue, problem, or theme that you want to improve in your life. Set a timer and sit down with a piece of paper and pen and write down as many ideas on what you will do to improve this situation as you can in your allotted time period.
The SkillfulMeans program helps you fine tune this sense and get clearer on how to improve your own everyday state by living with intention and mindfulness in every area of your life.
Download our free SkillfulMeans Guide To A Meaningful Practice to get started.
— William Jackson, PsyD, Founder of SkillfulMeans and licensed clinical health psychologist
— Heather Wise, MPH, Co-Founder of SkillfulMeans and certified holistic health coach