The Basics of the Mindfulness Habit

Mostly anything that’s worth doing requires focus, especially on your first try. You can imagine writing a complex email, sorting out files and such.

What makes focus a harder task is blocking out distractions from your awareness. With the advent of smartphones and social media, this has become an even harder task.

One day I was studying about which gender had more self-compassion for my graduate thesis, and I was grateful our dog finally stopped barking. Suddenly, both my laptop and phone beep up! Many Facebook friends are having a conversation in our group chat. Functioning in autopilot, I took a couple of minutes to realize I was no longer focused.

Perhaps you have tried a similar ordeal where you’ve suddenly lost focus.

Daniel Goleman, the author of the bestselling Emotional Intelligence book, says that our minds tend to wander a lot. When our minds do wander, we tend to autopilot on worrisome thoughts. “Why isn’t my partner replying?”, or “What should I say to my boss?”

Mindlessly worrying can be counter-productive to whatever we want to achieve. Fortunately, mindfulness helps the wanderings of our restless minds.

Mindfulness basics

Mindfulness simply involves the awareness of the present moment without getting swept away by our reactions. This could mean paying attention to whatever you are doing at the moment.

This kind of practice originates in Buddhist traditions. People would hum out mantras and become more serene and relaxed. Nowadays, mindfulness practice is as simple as paying attention to your breath.

How exactly can you practice mindfulness without breaking a sweat? I’ve learned to live with these two ways:

  1. Way of the breath. This path is more conscious in nature. It involves stopping whatever you are doing and taking a deep breath. Pay attention to your breath, and your breath alone. You will notice your mind trying to wander to different places. Once you do, pay attention to your breath again.
  2. Catching yourself in the act. One time in traffic, I was raging over a reckless motorcycle overtaking me. All I could notice was how stupid he seemed in my head, and I wished he’d realize that. Suddenly, I noticed myself going through the rounds of getting angry. As this happened, I became more relaxed and balanced. Also, my urge to rant rapidly dropped, which is great. Mindfulness can involve simply noticing ourselves going in autopilot.

These are only two distinct ways to inculcate mindfulness in our lives. Of course, I do not suggest becoming mindful ALL the time. There will always be times it’s nice to be in autopilot and ‘mindless’. Performing arts such as acting and dancing are great examples. The list of exceptions will warrant another blog post.

In the end though, you want to develop a mindful stance in times of stress. It has been widely known to reduce anxiety and depression. Plus, it makes us more calm and happy, who wouldn’t want that, right?




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4 thoughts on “The Basics of the Mindfulness Habit”

  • Taking a deep breath is like the most effective one for me. That is why I practice yoga because my mind tends to wander a lot and with yoga, I get to be mindful of my breathing. It really helped me a lot. 🙂

  • Ohmygosh! Timinga ani na article! Haha.

    Just a while ago, I happened to be making a spreadsheet file (para sa payroll filing haha)
    Then, I remembered how my online customers were “demanding” for fidget spinners so I visited a wholesale website to check on their rates. (wala pa nahuman akong spreadsheet)
    Then, I realized it’s Monday and I still have to find the cards for our weekly team games so I had to open up Skype and ask the team if they have them. Then another group thread was talking about their plans for this weekend so I got stuck with that too. After it got a little boring, I decided to check on my blog roll and found this! Hahaha!

    And oh! I’ve got to finish my spreadsheet file after posting this comment. XD

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