How to start living mindfully

There are many methods people use to try to get to a higher level of consciousness. A level in which our stresses, our fears, and the mundane problems of life no longer effect how we view ourselves and the world. Living "mindfully" has become somewhat trendy these days, but for good reason. You absolutely have the power to change your habits and thought patterns. While mindfulness will not solve all your problems, it can help you take control or regain control of your life. I have long struggled with depression and anxiety. Several times, from physicians and mental health professionals to friends and family, I've been advised to try mindful practices like meditation. I usually shrugged off this advice without giving it a solid try because I didn't believe that just sitting down in a quiet room for a few minutes a day would solve anything.

As I started to explore my spirituality more, I found myself incorporating mindful practices because of my magickal practice. And I started to notice a difference in the way I reacted to negative thoughts, as well as to experiences. I have begun to feel more grounded in myself, more stable, and more like the person I know I would be without anxiety. Not saying I'm there yet, but it's progress. So, today I want to share with you some easy ways to start incorporating mindful practices into your life.

Journaling

I kept several diaries as a child and adolescent, and wrote in them almost every day about anything and everything. As I got older, I stopped keeping dairies or journals, mostly because I was always busy or exhausted or just didn't think there was a point anymore. I recently started journaling again as a way to get all my thoughts down on paper before I try to go to sleep for the night. I've long struggled with insomnia, and deal with racing thoughts that make it almost impossible to relax and fall asleep. Journaling has given me a new outlet for these thoughts. I write until my hand cramps or until I start to feel my eyes slowly closing on their own.

My tip is to not go into it with a purpose, don't prepare or plan what you will write about. Let your thoughts take over and jot them down. You'll be surprised some of the things you'll be able to work though and the realizations you'll be able to make about yourself or situations in life that are bothering you. And, even if none of that happens, I'm certain you'll at least start to fall asleep and be able to get some good rest without your worries nagging away at you.

Meditation

This is the mindful practice that everyone has heard about and that pretty much every therapist will advise their clients to try. It's also greatly popular because of holistic healing blogs and actual spiritual practices that believe meditation can solidify one's connection with the Divine. I've struggled with meditation for years, trying it off and on and never really having any positive results. Mediation has a very grandiose perception. When most people think of meditation, they think of enlightenment. You may view meditating as a practice of complete silence, of being able to let go of your thoughts completely. I held that same view, and have only recently come to discover how wrong my understanding of meditation has been.

Meditation is not a practice of letting go of your thoughts, per say, but of having the experience of holding a single focus: you. When you're mediating, do look for a space away from continuous distractions, but you do not need to envelop yourself in solitude. Instead, close your eyes, take a few deep breathes, and allow yourself to fall into a normal breathing pattern. Focus on where in your body your breath is coming from, lean into that feeling. As thoughts come, allow them to. Acknowledge the thought, then come back to your breath. The same with outside sounds. Meditation is not about ignoring the mundane nuances of life, but accepting them and returning to yourself. This is the basic guiding principle of meditation.

I recently discovered an awesome app called Headspace that has timed, guided meditations allowing you to meditate anywhere and even for specific reasons. It's subscription based and pricey, but definitely try out the free 3-day trial. It's a great basic introduction to meditation!

Tap, tap, tap it away with EFT

I first heard about the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) from a blog post by Gala Darling. Gala used EFT to help her recover from her eating disorder. When I first read about EFT, commonly known as tapping, I was incredibly skeptical. EFT uses meridians, which are energy pathways throughout the body, to help change the way one thinks. It's basically a way of rewiring your brain by tapping. It feels very much like a more active, involved form of meditation.

How it works is that you repeatedly tap the meridians on your body while repeating a positive, affirming mantra, like "Even though I am feeling so anxious, I love and accept myself. I am open to feeling calm and relaxed as I release this anxiety."

After finding out about this technique, I've tried it a few times and was amazed at how good I felt afterward. The most important part of EFT is continued practice. I have a fear of public speaking, and EFT has been very helpful in calming myself before a speaking engagement. I now tap before presentations, before interviews, or whenever I am going to be in a very public situation. It can look a bit awkward if you do EFT in public, so I try to find a space where I can be alone. However, there are meridians in your wrists, so if I'm unable to find a space to be alone in, I'll focus on tapping on those meridians while repeating my mantra to myself quietly.

Below is a video from Dr. Mercola's website. Dr. Mercola is self-described EFT expert.

So there you are! Three easy ways to start incorporating mindfulness into your life. What are some ways you practice mindfulness currently? I'd love to hear of how these or other practices have helped you. Share the knowledge below!