Practicing awareness for the hell of it.
Practicing the “power of now” or mindfulness has been a big self-help trend this last decade. The qualities of being present in the moment are known for making you more efficient and reducing anxiety. While I’m not denying these benefits, they don’t really motivate me to practice awareness.
Now I could start telling you that I practice mindfulness because it’s a spiritual means to transcend myself. It’s partly true but let’s be honest, the main reason why I love to focus on “the now” is pleasure. I just like to feel good, like a lot of people, I guess. And mindfulness makes me feel good, it fulfills me. I think this is motivating enough to practice it, like having sex can be done just for the hell of it.
The following is a list of tips on how I use mindfulness to enjoy life more, without any other purpose than enjoying it.
In your bed
If you have read my other post how to work from your bed you already know that it’s one of my favorite places. I highly recommend practicing mindfulness in your bed: it’s not only possible but it feels AWESOME. Lying on your back relaxes your body instantly, just make sure that your back is straight (try not using a big pillow). Ideally do it when the house is quiet, without playing music. Do it before you go to sleep, it’s a good habit to have. And don’t worry about falling asleep and losing awareness…isn’t that what a bed is for?
In a warm bath
Am I being too self complacent here?
Probably, but I’m not gonna stop. A bathtub is a great place to fully open up to the now, especially as it is a “nice warm now”, not a cold/unfriendly one. You’re in a safe place there, in great company (yourself), and your body can fully relax. After you start relaxing and enjoying the feeling of warm water, you mind-chatter might seem louder: it means you’re more available and you can start to see what’s going on in your mind. Leverage that opportunity to open up more and let those feelings pass through you, get used to the underlying currents of your mind, they are usually unnoticed for lack of awareness.
In an airport
Airports are the places of long waits, they’re quiet, impersonal and secure environments. There is something timeless about airports, nobody knows you there and during flights abroad you are not expected to pick up your phone or check your email. It’s like a little meditation retreat where you can sit, be there and enjoy not having responsibilities and practicing on your own. You can catch up with the Todo’s once you reach your destination, for now you are out of time, fully present.
In a conversation
Having a conversation with somebody is one of the best moments for practicing mindfulness. We are used to thinking of conversations as a time when we should talk and keep the mind busy with concepts. Actually, it can be the opposite. Usually people are more eager to talk about their own ideas and problems. Most of them are not really interested in what they others have to say, they are desperate for somebody to talk TO, somebody that will listen to them.
Seize it as another great opportunity to be fully there, with the person. Tune in their conversation, you don’t need to say something smart, just listen. The person will feel cared for and will appreciate. On your end, you will relax, forget about your problems and practice a noble art: the art of listening.
These were a few tracks, there are so many others. The key element is to be bold and try it: whether on the toilet seat or in the middle of a meeting, all circumstances are favorable for the practice of mindfulness, all we need is to be creative. And since there is no fail in this practice and no special conditions needed, you might want to try it whenever the hell you like :)