What does mindfulness look like when you get up from your meditation? How can you keep that peace in your life during the rest of the day? It is probably recognizable that you get up from your meditation cushion completely zen, only to immediately grab your mobile phone and immediately get stressed about everything you still have to do, or that you lash out at your children because they have to hurry up because we are in a hurry.
I am often asked what mindfulness in daily life can look like, how to integrate it into a busy life, beyond the meditations. Of course, I can only speak from how I experience mindfulness in daily life. Where it starts for me is the awareness during the day of my body. Through the formal exercises on the mat, I am more aware of my posture throughout the day. This can be the tense bending forward during a conversation, the raising of shoulders behind the laptop, walking with clenched fists, bracing the lower back while driving a car, sitting on the edge of the chair during an exciting conversation. Adjusting the posture brings immediate relaxation. This prevents tension in the body from escalating and leading to complaints. At the same time, my posture gives me information about how I am feeling and how I am doing. Apparently I am in my head or worried about something. My attention can go to that for a moment and bring some softness to myself.
Through mindfulness I have also become aware of little things around me that influence me negatively. It's so subtle that you almost don't notice it, but it does affect you in the next moment. This can be something as small as being irritated by the cutlery drawer that doesn't close properly every time because of something that tends to stick out. Or the subtle thoughts about being too fat by unconsciously registering the dress hanging in the closet that has become too tight for me. Or the feeling of pressure and stress that rises when I see the pile of papers on the table that remind me of the tax return I still have to file. These small disturbances accumulate throughout the day and create a lot of noise. They eat up energy, available inner space and physical resistance. Sometimes it is so small that I do not immediately recognise it. I notice a change in my state of mind, something like a latent insecurity or feeling of tension or pressure and only by going back into what I did, thought and registered can I often trace it back to its cause. Sometimes it is only when it happens again that I can put my finger on it.
Then, when I know what it is that bothers me, I can change it. Storing the dress in the cellar, removing the papers from the table and setting a date to file the tax return, tidying the cutlery drawer. All in all, that gives me so much peace. Sometimes it is impossible to change something, for example when you drive past a billboard advertisement every day that you don't like, such as an online gambling advertisement in my case. Every time, it gives me a bad feeling. Memories of people I know who are gambling addicts. In that moment I bring attention to what is happening in me, to my inner reaction. With mildness and acceptance I let the experience be. In this way it does not start to live its own life in my head and body.
The last "hack" are the mini breaks. When I get home or have finished something, I tend to move on to the next thing immediately, because busy busy busy. But now I find myself giving myself permission for 2-3 minutes to make a transition. I may do nothing for these minutes, just be with the breath. I cannot describe how much peace this brings during the day. The time it takes me is negligible, but the peace, the self-confidence and the I-don't-let-myself-be-crazy attitude is worth so much. Because let's face it, what we do and have to do is all super important, but in the end, even that is relative. Is there really something in your daily life that can't wait 2 minutes?
On 11 September, an official (8-week) Mindfulness training starts where you will learn all about mindfulness and how you can use it in your life for more resilience, balance, peace and creativity (see below).