The beauty of mindfulness is that it can help us get more out of life and enjoy more time with ourselves. It also strengthens our mental endurance, since, by being mindful, we aren’t running away from the present just to cling to a past or future that doesn’t exist.
Being in the present is glorified and it’s what we have an easier time doing when meditating. But very few learn to practice mindfulness outside a meditative state. Now, meditation in itself is important, you want to get so good at meditation that the benefits last even after you stop practicing meditation.
You shouldn’t abandon meditation, but what I’m saying is that if done right, it can make your life a whole lot easier, and in this case, mindfulness is perhaps one of the best states of mind we can take away from meditation, but undervalued by many until we start facing situations that inevitably brings us to the present.
Someone that hasn’t mastered being in a peaceful state of mind in the present, will often suffer more as a result. Mindfulness is a way to break free from this escapist pattern and accept the present reality as it is since that’s when we have more power over it.
Below, I’ll outline some tips that can help you be in a mindful state even after you’re done with the meditation. These tips are a combination of what has helped me and what often helps meditators get the most out of mindfulness to make it last.
Seeing Life as a Video Game
This is perhaps my favorite way to practice mindfulness, but if you don’t play video games, this might not resonate with you. I’m talking about first-person video games, where you play out the protagonist’s life and get to make decisions in what feels like real-time.
You want to emulate this feeling in real life since when you’re playing a video game where you have no idea what’s gonna happen, you don’t necessarily attach your expectations to a certain outcome and instead, focus on enjoying the experience of playing that game.
Many worries can surge in our day to day, some of which are reasonable and warranted, but if you can’t do anything about what’s about to happen, feeling worse about it isn’t magically gonna make the situation better.
And on the flip side, when you’re expecting something, you might enjoy the feeling of knowing you’re closer to that thing happening versus the actual thing happening.
The mind has a tendency to hype things up, but the aftermath is usually composed of anxiety or misaligned expectations, even if the implication of what’s about to happen is a good thing.
With mindfulness and more notably, the one found in video games, the ignorance of not knowing what’s about to happen is blissful, as the story could take a million different turns, but if we start treating life the same way, it’s easier to retain a somewhat ‘happier’ state of mind because you remove your expectations from the equation.
Expectations are more volatile than a roller-coaster, and things could go up, down, sideways, or in circles.
But being mindful of your day-to-day already puts you ahead of bad situations, suffering and less desirable moments are part of life and by not being mindful of the present moment, we’re just delaying that suffering for it to stack up, which ultimately stimulates the feeling of catching up on homework or work.
The present isn’t always pure bliss, but whenever bliss is present, the degree to which we experience such bliss is amplified significantly.
Mindfulness While Cooking
If you enjoy cooking, you might as well be mindful during your cooking. If mindfulness is associated with something pleasant, it will be easier to maintain over time.
No one says you have to start with mindfulness with something you don’t enjoy, if anything, it might revert you to the old habits of mindlessly going through your day-to-day with your attention in the past or future— that’s what we want to avoid and would defeat the purpose of mindfulness.
This mindfulness can slip away subconsciously without us noticing, especially if we’re carried away by distractions, which is why mindfulness is a great way to amplify our focus and grow that muscle of focus, which ultimately reciprocates back to the mindfulness and helps the mindfulness remain present for longer.
As a bonus to cooking, you’ll benefit from being mindful about your eating, and you might be propelled to experience the flavors of your food and engage more of your senses in the present moment.
These might sound like simple, easy steps to a more fulfilled life, and they are, but they are also overlooked because being mindful can be boring, or even scary for some.
There’s at least some resistance subconsciously, but restoring to the past and future gets pretty old quickly, so you might as well enjoy an environment that’s in real-time, changing before your eyes every second, considering everything can happen.
And when it comes to mindful eating, it might get you to eat slower which is a key component in a healthier life.
I say this from first-hand experience, I used to consider myself a world champion when it came to eating speed, but it’s not exactly something to strive for, whereas taking a step back and being mindful about when you are eating and what you eat are small decisions that pave the path towards bigger decisions. In other words, taking baby steps.
This is perhaps the most obvious one and the core definition of meditation. But it can also be the hardest because just focusing on your breath can be boring, but it’s a bit like training a muscle, and the hard parts of it can also be the most beneficial.
At some point, you’ll have to experience mindfulness with some level of discomfort so you don’t resort back to the past or future.
People use the past or future because they are addicted to experiencing joy perpetually, but over time, that threshold for joy can become bigger and by extension, harder to fulfill, whereas with meditation and mindful breathing, you achieve the opposite and the threshold to achieve some sort of fulfillment gets shorter.
It’s not that mindful breathing is difficult on its own, but keeping the attention there can be, and it gets increasingly harder if your level of focus is low, but fortunately, you can always train it up, even outside meditation by abstaining from quick dopamine-inducing activities.
When Showering or Bathing
Showers and baths are perfect environments for us to be mindful. You already are in a relaxed state so you already won half the battle. All you have to do at that point is experience the water, and the temperature. Try to engage with how it feels.
Is it cold? Is it hot? How does it make you feel? Observe your reaction and don’t judge it. It’s another way to practice meditation while bathing, and because of the comfort, it’s a great way to plant a seed toward growing the habit of mindfulness.
Already being in a relaxed state can be a shortcut to putting yourself in a near deep-meditative state, which, for many, it’s a process of trial and error to achieve, whereas for some, just by being relaxed, they start experiencing a deep connection with themselves that’s abundant in peace of mind and wisdom.
Many use showers or baths to overthink, but it’s a great opportunity to intercept that pattern and gradually substitute overthinking with mindfulness.
It takes time to get used to it, so don’t expect it to happen in your first session. You shouldn’t even expect to enter a deep meditative state when you’re starting out. If anything, detach your expectations from any process and watch how the present plays out.
While Brushing Your Teeth
This might be the most mundane task of them all, but a great way to intercept a somewhat sleepy state of mind and kickstart your day with a cup of mindfulness in the process.
Of course, this can also be done at night. Most would consider brushing their teeth as boring, as some sort of chore.
You might as well use that time to be mindful about brushing your teeth — don’t rush it, and you’ll see how mindfulness indirectly takes care of your teeth for you and your gums will thank you for it.
Personally, I consider that it’s the easiest to do mindfulness when you are combining it with something you enjoy, but for some, the opposite might be the case.
When Going for a Walk
This might be one of the most underrated ways to combine mindfulness with. Walking and running can both be therapeutic, and it does wonders for our minds to observe our environment as we are walking or taking a run.
I believe it makes it both more enjoyable and purposeful. It’s like being in touch with nature, and being in touch with nature already puts you ahead, when combining it with any other practice where you are becoming your best self.
After all, some monks choose certain places in nature as those more spiritually inclined often consider it an ideal environment to thrive spiritually.
Going for walks is also a great way to shred worries and disconnect from the world, which is why it makes such a perfect match with mindfulness.
By default, some can’t help but get mindfulness when they experience the beauty of a peaceful walk, it’s after all a desirable state of mind and due to its nature, also makes it easier to be present.
Now, the opposite can also happen, the mind can use that same comfort provided by a walk to wander away into the past or future.
Being Mindful While Exercising
Exercise makes a great combination with meditation. For many, it’s their way of leveling up, and, getting a sense of achievement, especially when building muscle, but it’s also a great way to be mindful.
Now while mindfulness is compatible with a peaceful environment, it can also work wonders with more intense environments such as workouts, especially when you are trying to up yourself.
When you are exercising and straining your muscles, you sometimes can’t help but be in the present, especially when you’re doing an exercise that makes you feel like “oh, this is so difficult”, but the point is that you can’t help but focus on the exercise. Because the present has become so intense your mind has it harder to think of the past or future.
The same can be said when we are in a fight-or-flight mode or thinking about survival and doing things now. The sense of urgency can be beneficial to this mindfulness and being in the now and over a prolonged time, adopting the habit gets easier.
Journaling is a great way to track your progress with meditation and virtually anything else. It’s also a great way to analyze your thoughts and notice where the flow of your attention is going, so you can bring it back to the present.
Upon writing down your thoughts and feelings, you might get to learn the root cause of what’s stealing away your attention from the present, and you’ll be able to do something about it.
Now, journaling consistently can bring back memories, which can put you in the past, but it’s only for a short moment to understand your thoughts and yourself better overall, the more you get to know yourself, the easier it is to steer the mindfulness in a way that makes it stick with you.
If you consider yourself artistic, your art could peak if you combine it with mindfulness. It’s a way to extract your most utter artistic spirit.
Generally, you will already be mindful when doing something creative, it’s one of the easiest ways to be mindful and you’ll often encounter no resistance from the mind.
Doing something artistic or creating something can put you in a mindful state, even when you are not trying to. Mindfulness and creativity go like a finger on a ring, and it’s where your creativity gets a chance to shine, thrive and develop in ways you might’ve not imagined before.
Just like going for a walk, It’s another underrated way to be in the present moment with a relatively low chance of the subconscious going back to the future or past. So a good trick to ensure you stay present more consistently is to engage with creative work that sucks you in for hours.
The End Goal of Mindfulness
There are many other countless ways to be mindful outside of meditation, but these are just a few that I can think of. They also happen to be one of the most effective ways to remain mindful in my experience.
Feel free to play around with these and try to reach a point where mindfulness becomes second nature to you. At that point, meditation will be an amplifier to your existing good habits and can even open the door for a new world you’ve unblocked.
Anything you do with mindfulness in the equation will often result in an output that’s of higher quality. You’ll also be able to learn things faster and excel more at anything you do.