What is happiness? Is there an objective answer to this question, or is up to each and every one of us to decide? Personally, I believe in the latter. I think we are capable to create our own happiness. I don’t think happiness is a constant state of mind, but fleeing. You just have to keep your eyes open so can see when it’s stopping by.
This is where mindfulness comes in. When you’re going about your everyday routine, do you ever stop and think? Do you ever just sit on the subway or at home, without your phone, music, or laptop? Do you ever see what’s in front of you, or listen to your thoughts? You might think you’re missing out of something if you’re not constantly reading the news, or scrolling down your Instagram feed. When in fact, you’d be surprised of how much your missing out on when you do this.
Try to take a moment. Start right now, just to try it out. When you have finished reading this post take 5 minutes and don’t do anything. If you’re sitting at a desk, turn your chair around facing the room. If you’re sitting on the couch or bed, put your laptop away.
Now let’s do this step by step:
- Place your feet on the ground. Sit straight, but still comfortably. Close your eyes.
- Take a deep breath. Feel the air going all the way through your nose, lungs, and your stomach. Focus on one part, the way it feel in your nose for example.
- Keep on breathing, focusing on your spot. Every time your mind wanders away (which it will), keep returning your focus to your breathing.
- If you want to you can move your focus around: feel your feet, the floor underneath them. How does the chair/couch/whatever your sitting on feel against your butt and back? Is it soft or hard? Are you relaxed or tense? You can continue doing this all the way through your body.
- When you feel done, slowly come back to the room by wiggling your toes, moving your fingers, and opening your eyes.
This is the basics of mindfulness. It might not seem like a lot when you read it, but believe me when I say it’s actually pretty difficult- No it’s almost impossible to just focus on your breathing without your mind wandering away. The main goal is to keep on returning your focus, again and again, to your focus point. That is the purpose of this exercise. You can practice this at home, at the bus, or at work. It can take 1 minute or an hour if you want that.
Mindfulness doesn’t have to be some hippie meditation stuff, it can be whatever you want it to be. That’s the beauty of it. There are a thousand different ways you can practice to be mindful, or in the moment. This is just one of them.
Another way can be to just look. Look around you. What do you see? When you’re walking to the bus, look at the trees, look ahead, look above. Can you see that little flower on your right side? Can you see the water on its petal? Can you see how the leaves are moving in the wind? Or what it sounds like when your feet are hitting the ground?
The key is to be in touch with your senses: Look, feel, hear, smell, and taste. You can’t do everything at once, that’s why it’s easier to start by picking just one thing to focus on. It’s also impossible to walk around and be mindful all day long, but a few moments here and there will do a lot.
Mindfulness will help you when feeling stressed. It will help you to find happiness, because it will open your eyes so can see it when it arrives. Now don’t be alarmed, but “just” sitting down and breathing can actually stir up some heavy emotions. It’s not uncommon to cry. It might force you to think about stuff you’ve been pushing to the back of your mind for a long time. If that happens, don’t get scared and stop. Instead, keep focusing on your breathing. You will be able to deal with whatever you’re feeling, and that will be the key to your happiness.
OK, I rambled on a little longer than I meant to, but it’s just so much to say. Like I mentioned before, there are so many ways to practice mindfulness and this is just one way. This is just the basics of it. I understand if you’re skeptical, I was too. Just give it a try. What do you have to loose? What’s five minutes of no Internet gonna do to you?
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