A friend of mine asked me the other day: “Are you mindful all day? “What exactly do you mean by that,” I asked. “Well, because you meditate every day and are busy with mindfulness, I wondered if you are a kind of ‘zen’ all day. I had to laugh about that very hard first. But I also thought it was a very nice question and had to think about the answer. Is it possible to be mindful all day and how would you do that?
When I look at myself I am mindful daily, but I am not 100% mindful all day. That would mean that every moment of the day I focus my attention on the experience of that moment with an open, non-judgmental attitude. I’m sure you can imagine how difficult that is. Also, I have quite a strong opinion about things I like to ventilate. And I worry about trivialities which I then sputter about.
At home, for example, when my favorite soap opera doesn’t go the way I want it to and I’m yelling at the TV. Then my partner always says: “Honey, that’s in the script”, which he uses to get me on the closet by default. Which is what he likes. But also on my own in the car, when some idiot walks behind me tailgating or drives a car without a blinker. Yes, some cars are built without a blinker. And then I sit behind the wheel like a rough boat worker cursing.
The difference with the old days is that I was able to get stuck in that feeling. Growling could come out of the car and couldn’t get away from it. Or if something happened in the morning, I could get stuck in that negative energy all day long.
Being mindful does not mean that I no longer have emotions, that everything becomes flat and I react to everything in a kind of zen state. It is more that I am now aware of how I feel because of a problem or stress situation and that I can choose how I react, without being controlled by it. That I experience the emotion and that it may be there. Give it space. And then I do a very focused mindfulness-exercise. Sometimes several times a day. The result is that I don’t have sleepless nights and don’t carry the unpleasant feeling with me all day. By remaining present at the experience at that moment, without judging it or trying to push it away. Maybe you recognize that too.
I also use mindfulness in ‘normal’ activities and for example, slow down my run when I walk to the gym. I listen very consciously to the bird sounds when I cycle home from work. When I walk past a lavender plant I have to feel and smell it. When I have to wait somewhere I am not busy ‘that I am in the wrong row’, but I look around me, I listen to the murmur and then I feel the rush flowing out of my body. I am also great at staring in front of me. Looking at nothing. Even as a child I did that. I also remember doing that during lunch at work. Because then my colleagues would say if I didn’t react: “Ah, Nicole isn’t here again”. That gave my head some rest and then I could move on.
So I’m not all day and 24/7 mindful, but I have the mindfulness in my daily routine. And that feels very nice. It provides more peace in my head. And if there is a lot of noise there, because that is completely human and will always be so, then I will not let myself be controlled. It also makes me notice that those busy thoughts have become less, quieter, and different than before. Inferior thoughts, feeling uncomfortable for a moment, problems that suddenly occur, or stressful situations that you cannot influence will always be there. That is life. Whether you want it or not. How you deal with it ensures how you feel in general. That is what you can influence yourself. That is where you have a choice. And no one else.
Would you like to experience more peace of mind? Then listen to this ‘3 minutes of breathing space’. If you start your day with this, after a few weeks you can already feel a difference and notice that you are more conscious in life. It brings you more to yourself. And once you have mastered this exercise, you can do it anywhere in your mind. In the shower, if you’re waiting somewhere, before an exciting meeting. It can always be done. Try it.