Question: “Do you have any tips to be more mindful in the new year?”
“As a form of meditation, mindfulness works by distracting us from our normal auto-pilot thought patterns. This distraction allows us space to mentally relax, which is why something as simple as pausing to take a deep breath can help us relax and refocus.
Mindful activities can also give us a better understanding of how our minds work. Anytime we deliberately take ourselves out of our habitual automatic mental patterns we’re meditating or being mindful of what we are doing. The problem is that we easily slip back into our usual mental habits.
We can replace our current mental habits with the habit of being mindful. The more we practice, the more of a mental habit our mindfulness becomes.
Whether we know it or not, we already meditate in our daily life activities. Every time we modify our behavior to censor ourselves around children, we’re meditating. We’re also meditating when we adjust our behavior with different family members, different friends, in our work environments, etc. These are examples of how we naturally integrate meditation into our human lives.
We also have other opportunities to extend our natural meditation by participating in activities that distract us from our normal auto-pilot thought patterns. Among these activities are practicing yoga, tai chi, or any other activity which demands our focused awareness. By purposely paying extra attention to ordinary bodily movements we take for granted, we can turn almost anything into meditation, such as our favorite health club exercises, playing active sports, knitting, coloring, going for a walk, etc.”