01 Feb '17
Mindfulness: A Small Game Plan to Transforming Your Life Through 3 Minutes a Day
As the society conditioned us to be, we’re on an ‘autopilot’ every day, struggling to get up and hit the snooze button, getting ready with eyes half open, maybe eating a piece of bread and yogurt, and running to make it to our same destination on time. Whether we have taken the time to reflect on our daily routines, we’re all rather living by the artificial rules that we have made for ourselves, allowing just a bit of time on evenings and weekends to escape...often into screens.
While this is considered normal and we don’t offer ourselves much reasons to think about our daily routines, we sometimes do experience and remember the true joy and happiness of life. Remember that time when you became one with yourself when you were adventuring, visiting new cities, going into the woods, or simply seeing your favorite band ever? Remember that never-ending flow of excitement that manifested as you fully embraced the environment as well as yourself? Every day can be just like that in just three minutes of doing nothing.
Welcome to the world of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is simply our ability to pay attention to the present. Confused? Stop whatever you’re doing for 3 seconds and notice the sensations of your breathing. You just became mindful.
The practice of mindfulness has been around for thousands of years and has roots in Buddhism, but it only started to become known in the Western world in the last decade or a secular, highly effective tool for improving mental health/wellness. Its positive impact have been shown for helping with insomnia, anxiety, depression, and memory, just to name a few. Now tech companies like Google and LinkedIn are going crazy over offering mindfulness to its team to boost employee productivity and retention.
After researches have shown that happiness is a choice rather than a result of circumstances, many scientists now believe that mindfulness, along with reflection and social support, actually may be the key to happiness.
What’s so hard about paying attention to the present?
We have trouble being mindful simply because it is not our habit (yet). Although we have been gifted with this natural ability to observe the present without judging, we have been busy following our agenda, so busy that we never actually have time to focus on the present. We’re too often worrying about our future or looking back at our past with a hint of anger or resentment.
Being mindful isn’t easy; most of us have quite a crazy traffic of thoughts thoughts as we sit still in quietness. A lot of people think meditation isn’t for them because they have trouble controlling their thoughts and sitting quietly isn’t helping. Or they set unrealistic goals like meditating 20 minutes a day and simply give up on this “new year’s resolution”.
Do you actually want to make a difference in your everyday life? Let’s take it one step at a time and make a real game plan.
Getting started with mindfulness
As much as meditating is hard, it doesn’t have to be. Starting off, start with just 3 minutes of meditating everyday. Pick a time and stick with it; I personally do it right after morning workouts when I still have high energy and focus. Some do it right before bed to help them sleep.
It’s also the best to start with guided meditations instead of trying alone. While listening to guided meditations, you may feel like being in a private session with meditation teachers and therapists, and they can teach you various techniques to be mindful. You can get access to guided meditations for free on Aura, a mindfulness meditation app for beginners (iOS, Android users can sign up here).
Studies say it takes about 66 days to form a new habit. Here, the consistency of practice is the most important; no need to shoot for 20 minutes a day and become a zen master. And if you’re struggling, always remember that 3 minutes is quite a magic number. It happens to be a length of a song (or just a bit shorter), and we all have the ability to make time and focus for 3 minutes. (Another fun fact: there are 1440 minutes in a day and you can make 3 minutes).
And as you get in the habit of being mindful, opening yourself, understanding yourself, and perceiving the world without judging, you get to enjoy the real beauty of mindfulness–bringing it into your daily life. You can be mindful while walking. While eating. While hanging out with friends. From rather mundane events, you get to experience everything more fully… because you are now able to take in your surroundings and let them become one with you. Just like that last time you saw your favorite band.
Are you ready for the 3-minute challenge? Share this article with your loved ones who may want to join you.
Aura is a mindfulness meditation app for stress and anxiety, powered by artificial intelligence