If you’re trying to take care of yourself in the modern world, you hear the word “mindfulness” a lot. It’s often associated with meditation and yoga. But sometimes also with more “conventional” workouts – especially solitude activities like walking, running and swimming. It’s even an “eating strategy.”
I’ve invested time and energy to understand what mindfulness means and how it can help. But I’m kind of “out there,” I admit. I hang out in yoga studios, and I’m studying psychology and coaching. I read a ton of wellness/new-age-y stuff on the Internet.
You? With a full-time-plus job and many other time-demanding responsibilities and interests outside of health-and-wellness, you’ve probably focused on this less than me.
If you’re like many guys, you have a vague sense of what mindfulness is, but not very specifically. And you don’t really “do” anything with that knowledge.
I think you should go one level deeper here, man. Understanding mindfulness and incorporating it more into your routines will help with all aspects of maximizing your life. With that goal, here’s a brief tour of mindfulness, how it helps, and what you can do to harness its power.
WHAT IS MINDFULNESS, ANYWAY?
Merriam-Webster says it means “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”
- “Moment-to-moment” is key. It’s so common for our minds to relive the past or contemplate the future. The “now” gets neglected. This is related to another buzz phrase you often hear: “being present.”
- Mindfulness includes awareness of your body – what it’s physically doing and feeling.
Does this sound interesting, but too abstract? DON’T QUIT ON THIS YET, DUDE. Please check out these two short videos, which ARE compelling!
Here’s one of the original and best-known gurus of mindfulness presenting the concept and urging you to act “as if your life depended on it.” It seems a bit academic at first. But I promise, if you start listening to what the guy is saying, you’ll soon forget that first reaction.
And here’s a very clear “cartoon” explanation of how mindfulness literally changes our brain to help make us happier and more successful.
The videos already talked about some benefits. But to put it in one place (and this is an incomplete list, I’m sure), mindfulness will help you:
- Be more productive and effective at work, based on sharper focus, better-reasoned decisions, and enhanced communications and connections with people
- Enhance your personal relationships, which research has shown are the most important driver of your happiness, and actually linked to your longevity
- Improve your fitness & health: lower stress, reduce injury and fatigue setbacks from being more in-tune with your body, and eat better
YOUR NEXT STEP
As you’d guess, meditation is one of the approaches most recommended to increase mindfulness. Nowadays, it’s so easy to try various styles of meditation via smartphone app “guides.” Here are three you can try – they all have some free content: Calm, Headspace, and Insight Timer. I’ve used all three, they’re all cool, and deciding among them is a matter of personal preference, really.
But mindfulness doesn’t start or end with meditation. There are so many other ways to practice mindfulness. Here are two good lists of 7 things and 13 things you can do to be mindful during your daily routine.
You know, as hard as it can be to get motivated and sustain discipline for physical fitness and nutrition, we tend to readily embrace at least the idea that there are things we can and should do to take care of our bodies.
But “exercising” our minds, to get rid of the “fat” and “toxins,” and build mental muscles that help us in everything we do? That’s less common, and that’s mindfulness.
Make it one of your go-to habits, brother. You’ll be glad you did!
“I’ve got it all here in my head. There’s nothing more needs to be said. I’m just bangin’ on my old piano. I’m getting in tune to the straight and narrow.” (The Who, Getting in Tune – click to listen).
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