Mindfulness is the state of being present minded, in the here and now. You don’t worry about the past or future, you simply live in the present. I recently started practicing mindfulness and I can tell you that the sheer sense of calm and contentment you feel by living the moment is rewarding.
I tried mindful meditation before only to quit. My reasons were simple, I couldn’t control my thoughts from wandering. I was being hard on myself for nothing actually. Mindfulness isn’t about stopping your thoughts, it’s about letting your thoughts flow, being aware of it and bringing your focus back. For me it was my breathing. I focused on my breathing even when I went for a walk or washed the dishes. I started becoming aware of what was going around me.
Yes my thoughts were still racing. But once I stopped judging each and every one of them, they came and went from my head without any emotional effect on me. Not judging your thoughts helps build your concentration and self-love or compassion. This is what mindfulness does and much more.
Mindfulness helps you concentrate
The very best thing about mindfulness is it teaches you to be focused on the here and now. Our minds always tend to wander. It’s a common trait among us. Being mindful means being aware of what’s going in now. Aware of your surroundings, the sounds, smells and how you feel about it without passing any judgment.
Whenever I’m on a trip, instead of judging everything I see or hear, I simply pay attention instead of forming an opinion and losing focus. It feels great to quiet your thoughts and let the world around you become a teacher. You’ll notice things that you’d otherwise miss trying to analyze each of your thought. Yes there are distractions around, but you learn to acknowledge them and quickly yet gently return to the focal point which will become a habit. What once would irritate or annoy me has become nothing but a thought that passes by.
Mindfulness helps you through difficult situations
Whether you’re back home or out on the road, life has a way of presenting unexpected things. Whether you’re a weekend warrior, gap year, part time or full time traveler, you’re bound to face some hard times. Especially if you are traveling alone in a foreign country. Mindfulness teaches you how to remain calm and to deal with the present situations. Instead of thinking about everything under the sun, you learn to bring your focus back to solving the problem instead of dwelling on it.
Now this doesn’t mean you won’t feel scared, sadness or anxiety. But you’ll learn to acknowledge, accept and deal with each emotion and the situation so you can move passed it. I recently faced a difficult situation at home and instead of letting anxiety take over, I was the only calm level headed person who actually helped solve the situation sooner. I remained focused on fixing the matter instead of complaining or fear.
Mindfulness helps you enjoy simplicity
For me, I prefer to enjoy the simple things in life. I find that those are the memories that last long and are most cherished. For example, hugging your children, kissing your spouse/ partner, having family dinner, spending time with your close friends and doing the things you love. I have built my life around enjoying life’s simple pleasures but it wasn’t always so simple. I had to figure out what mattered to me and that took both concentration and paying attention.
Being mindful has helped me get back on track with my core values and beliefs. I recognize that I don’t need much to feel happy or content. Once my basic needs are met such as food, clothing and so on, I’m really happy. Everything else it just icing on the cake.
All the simple luxuries that life offers on a daily basis become pure joy instead of irritating ones. Instead of you complaining how hot it is today, you’d enjoy the rays of sunshine brightening up your day and those clear blue skies. Even when you hate the rain, you’ll find the sound of the raindrops on your window extremely calming. In short you become grateful for everything around you and everything you have.
Mindfulness builds an attitude of gratitude
The last point I want to make is how grateful you learn to become because of mindfulness. I’ve notice that certain things that truly bothered me has become a non-factor. Things like a loud neighbor or not having enough money for certain commodities. I’ve learnt to make do with what I have and to accept the way my neighbor is.
Mindfulness is not about ignoring your issues but acknowledging and accepting them, all of them. Suppressing what you feel is not healthy for you. Acknowledging will help foster a sense of acceptance not just in situations but in who you are. I’ve even learnt to accept mistakes and failure, heck I welcome it. Because I know that it’s not the end of my world and I can take away a lot of good from it and be happy. This helps you defeat a very powerful thing and that’s fear. What we are afraid of has no power, it’s the fear that has power. It can stop us living our dreams.
Fear has prevented me from traveling in the past, in fear of being somewhere alone. Acknowledging the fear, accepting it has helped me both face and defeat it. I don’t let fear or worry rule my life anymore. I take small actions and hope for the best and be prepared for the worst case scenario.
We can all learn from being mindful, the benefits speak for itself. Taking the right steps in the right directions can improve the way we look at life and travel. It reminds us of why we do what we do and why we’re here. It helps us live each moment as if it was our last without judgement or fear. It is here that we truly begin to live. And live, we must.