Practicing Mindfulness outside of Meditation

Buddhist monks do not only swear on meditation, but they also bring mindfulness into their daily cleaning tasks. By putting all energy into these tasks, they are completed more efficiently, while also creating a relaxing state of mind.
Picture source: https://tricycle.org/trikedaily/meditation-chogyam-trungpa/

One key aspect that really helped my mental health was being mindful, which I first started practicing through meditation and Wim Hof breathing. I feel like mindfulness is often talked about nowadays, but always in the context of mindfulness meditation – While that is a key to become more mindful in general, I feel like there are many activities we do on the daily, where we can continue training a mindful mind. So, here are some activities I started completing with my full attention to the process. After all, mindfulness is simply the act of being present in the moment 🙂

Exercise

Do you run with music or do you focus on the experience?
Picture source: https://www.runnersworld.com/training/a28555402/fixing-your-running-form/

I used to distract myself when exercising by listening to up-beat music or distracting podcasts, so that I don’t have to focus on the physical and mental difficulty of the task. But in terms of improving your fitness levels and exercise mindset, it is really helpful to focus on what exactly you are experiencing while e.g. going for a run – What is your breathing rhythm like? How do you automatically move your arms? When do your feet touch the ground? By bringing your attention to your current state, you become much more aware of how exercise affects you and your body!

Painting

Maybe Bob’s calm mind is due to him being fully present while painting? If you don’t paint, you can practice mindfulness while consciously listening to him beating the devil out of his brushes instead.
Picture source: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-bob-ross-everyones-favorite-art-teacher

Another hobby of mine that I used to take as an opportunity to do while listening to music. Nowadays, however, I find there is nothing more relaxing than listening to brush strokes on a canvas and watching your painting take form. Maybe Bob Ross manifested this fascination of mine 🙂

Eating

If this is what you look like when eating, but you are fond of becoming more mindful, this is your chance to change a habit! Just put that phone down, it’s not too difficult 😛
Picture source: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/may/06/table-for-one-how-eating-alone-changing-our-diets

Nowadays it seems quite common that people are either on their phones or watch TV while eating. I find that to be a pretty unhealthy habit, and if you manage to solely focus on the eating experience, you are not just helping your physical health but are also training your meditative mind! I know it sounds silly, but give it a try 🙂 Realising how many distractions influence our mind is the first step to simply being.

Pretty much any activity really

Wherever you are, be there totally

Eckhart Tolle

Well, to conclude – Anything you do can be done mindfully. And why would you want to do that? Because your brain is like a muscle, and the more mindfulness you practice during simple daily activities or hobbies, the easier it gets to be mindful when you become anxious. Even something like brushing your teeth or doing the dishes, doing it while being fully present in the moment does not only help better completion of the task, but also shapes your mind.

When bringing mindfulness into your daily life, it will become much easier to meditate over time. While I think meditation itself is great, if you keep dwelling and pondering while completing simple tasks, your continuously wandering mind might become unhelpful to your mental health. So, I encourage to take off those headphones, put your phone down and simply listen and feel. And if your mind wanders – Notice and bring it back 🙂

The Importance of Self-Discipline

This past week I have tried to neglect laziness and be more productive. It is safe to say that I have been super busy, which I really enjoyed. But over the past month, I have also walked away from lazy habits by becoming more self-disciplined. I remember first hearing about the habit of discipline – It sounded daunting, something that only soldiers and strong believers show. But once I adopted a more disciplined routine, I realised it is the doorway to getting what you want in life. Here’s why:

If you live life according to immediate comfort and the avoidance of discomfort, you can never get to where you truly want to be. I found self-discipline to be the most crucial thing for my mental health, as I learned that challenges shape you and make you grow.
Picture source: https://videohive.net/item/aerial-silhouette-of-young-woman-climbing-up-to-the-top-of-a-mountain-in-front-of-the-sea-flight/23341387

It is the Key of Changing

Breaking habits is hard, so you have to change them – Replace bad old habits by doing something new to make it easier for you. For example, I used to go on my phone first thing in the morning. I now pick up my notebook instead, where I can check what I have to do, which motivates me to get out of bed. It would have been way easier and more tempting to keep checking my phone, but by using self-discipline I continually reinforced the emergence of a new habit.

It Establishes a Routine

Through this continued forcing of a simple behaviour, it slowly gets you to change your routine. It takes time, and it will be tough at times, but the more self-discipline you act out the easier it gets. For me, I started with a hobby that I enjoyed and was keen to do, such as sewing. By pushing myself to sew whenever I knew I had time to, I was able to transfer that self-discipline onto other more neglected parts of my life, such as reading non-fiction literature and revising for my driving theory test.

It gets You What You Want

You need continuous discipline to push out of your comfort zone and change. Staying in your comfort zone is what will hold you back from what you truly aspire to be or have in life, and you need to have continuous self-discipline to not crawl back into the place of never facing your fears. In order to have what you desire, you need to go through discomfort and face the challenge, which is where discipline is so crucial! Also, look at what you really want in life, so that you know where to apply your effort. I found a story that made the importance of self-discipline very understandable here: https://www.uncommon-knowledge.co.uk/self-discipline.html

It is easier to go down a hill than up, but the view is much better at the top. – Henry Ward Beecher

Two summers ago, I had no self-discipline – I was a lazy teenager and my mental state was as its worst. Even three months ago, I was longing to be this whole other person, but the combination of little self-discipline and fear of changes kept me stuck. As a result, I hid away and locked up my anger and unhappiness. But now I have learnt that changes were much needed and have made me happier than I have been in quite some time. But the only way I am getting here is by using constant self-discipline, which makes me able to look back at the end of every day and feel proud and accomplished. So go out and make your future-self proud too, you won’t regret it 🙂

Mental Health is More than just Mental Illness

Our mindset is complicated and takes time to figure out, but with consistent effort you can get there 🙂
Image Source: https://online.alvernia.edu/program-resources/behavioral-health-vs-mental-health/

Being healthy, physically and mentally, is often defined by the absence of any sort of illness. However, to me, being mentally healthy means so much more; When I reached the point of mostly having overcome my phobia, I was excited about being in a ‘healthy’ state of mind again (i.e. my life did not revolve itself around vomit). But I came to the realisation that there was so much more to my mindset than my previous mental illness. I did not suffer from depression nor anxiety, but there were parts of my thinking that were still unhelpful, and I am still continuously working on these belief systems.

But what do I mean by unhelpful thoughts that were not really part of a mental illness? For me, I found myself to be very reliant on other people – I constantly wondered what others thought of me, if they thought I looked good, and even let their personal outlook on life get to me. Everything in my life revolved around others, by either helping them, giving parts of my life up for them, or letting their opinions take over mine. Whenever I got home alone, I felt lost, confused and frustrated. This is not mentally healthy. I realised I could not let myself be so dependent on everyone but me – At the end of the day, I am the only person that is a constant throughout my life, so I need to learn how to be there for myself, be able to happily keep myself company, and create the person I aspire to be!

Mental illness is a huge issue that many people face in life, but is there more ways our thinking can be affected negatively?
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mental_disorder

If you don’t suffer from a diagnosed mental illness, it is important to still check how mentally healthy you are. An easy way to do this is to ask yourself questions concerning how you go through life: Are you happy being alone or do you immediately feel lonely or abandoned? What do you think when you look in the mirror? Is going to the cinema alone an option for you, or are you scared of external judgement? Are you able to find something positive in every situation? Can you laugh at yourself or are you easily embarrassed?

Mental health is something we need to talk about more, and mental illness is certainly a huge part of that. But there is more to being healthy, and small things, such as complaining or putting on make-up every time you step outside the door, might be signs you are not living with a healthy mentality. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed, or don’t suspect you suffer from a mental illness, being mentally healthy is still something you should check for.

Being able to see something positive in every situation is crucial for being mentally healthy.
Image Source: http://omswami.com/2016/12/the-secret-of-being-positive.html

You are the only consistent support throughout your life, so make sure to be create the support system you need and want! Nobody else but you will be there to look out for you, sense your emotions, and realise whether you are doing okay. For me, this is a huge part of mental health that I don’t see talked about very much, so I would love to hear your opinions on this :)!