Do you sometimes feel like you are overly connected but overly DISconnected at the same time? I know sometimes I can be so caught up in the online world that is my working life, that I can forget to stop and smell the roses, and really look at my children’s faces. Being present is the best way to enjoy life to the fullest. Here are some tip on mindful decorating and living and taking time to notice.
By being mindful and taking time to notice what is in your immediate surroundings, you enjoy your life more – this includes your home, work, food, friends and family. It can also be useful in how you approach your home decorating, and in how you stay true to what you love, and avoid overspending or creating more waste. When you start to look at what you want to change at home, focusing on the house, garden or rooms themselves: what you love and don’t love and why, is the first step, rather than looking outwards at what other people are doing with their homes. Yes you need inspiration, but seeing what you already have, what you really appreciate about that and the things that could be different, is a very important part of the process.
Practicing mindfulness in your entire life, being present, being more conscious of life as it happens, can seem contradictory if you are used to concentrating more on the future and trying to achieve your goals (I know I tend to do this if I do not try to be mindful) but learning and using mindfulness in your life, even in small ways, will actually help you achieve your goals and enjoy life more at the same time. In fact, you’re more productive when you’re mindful.
Most importantly, being present is really the only way to enjoy life to the fullest. It means you are noticing each moment, no matter what this moment brings. It is not about being “happy” all the time, as painful emotions are part of life, but when we are mindful we can stop buying into thoughts that are unhelpful and that can lead us down the garden path. Jealousy, resentment, anger and fear, can all raise their heads if we get caught up in social media for example, rather than staying firmly grounded in our own lives and all they bring to us.
When you are mindful, you enjoy anything you’re doing, more. This includes things you might think are painful or boring, such as cleaning, sitting at the traffic lights, or waiting in the shopping line. You can actually enjoy this time if you are truly present. Try it — wash dishes, vacuum or mop the floor, or make dinner, and remain fully present. It takes practice, but it really changes your life. Focus on the movement, the light fall, the sounds you can hear in the room and outside, the smells and the feel of the floor under your feet, the knife in your hand as you cut the vegetables. At the traffic lights, look around and notice 5 things you can see, hear, smell, taste or touch.
It is easy to be caught up in our thoughts about the past and future, and we definitely need time to both reflect and dream, but worrying and staying stuck in our head too much, deprives us of the present moment, of the here and now.
Here are some ways to be more mindful at home
- Sit in a room you love, or one you want to change
- Don’t talk to anyone, don’t have the television or music going
- Leave your mobile in another room
- Try not to think about what you can change or do to the room, what you can move, what you can paint. Just sit
- Breathe deeply, notice the light in the room, the colours on the walls, the smells, what you can hear, the feeling of the floor under your feet, the seat under you, the way you feel when you are sitting in the space
- Notice what that room is like right now and how it makes you feel – that will then be the key to what if anything, you actually want to change, or it may just make you appreciate what you have even more
- Perhaps you notice the room is dark, maybe you like that, or maybe you notice it makes you feel closed in. Maybe you notice the room is actually very warm, very welcoming and you want to keep that feeling. You might notice a picture or small thing that you absolutely adore, and that brings warm memories
- You may just realise you have not sat in this space in a mindful way before, as you have been too busy thinking about how to change it, or rushing through life, and benefit from this time in your home, feeling grateful
Decorating, improving and transforming our homes is important, because it makes us feel good. It enhances the emotions and relationships within your home even more when you have done this in a mindful way, and you will be much happier with the results.
When you are moving through your days, be sure to try and single-task, don’t multi-task. I am shocking for this one! When you’re pouring water for your cup of tea, just pour water. Make a cup of tea and notice the entire process, the sound of bubbling water, the steam, the smell, the noise as you pour your tea and the taste as you take the first sip. When you’re eating, just eat – look, taste, feel and smell each mouthful. Learning to eat more mindfully helps us to eat just what we need.
Zen proverb: “When walking, walk. When eating, eat.”
You can do one task at a time, but also rush that task. Instead, take your time, and move slowly. Make your actions deliberate, not rushed and random. It takes practice, but it helps you focus on the task. Being the speedy thing I am, this takes me a lot of work! If you do less, you can do those things more slowly, more completely and with more concentration.
Plan for space – if you schedule things close together and leave no space you will always be feeling like you are behind and rushing things. This means you have space in case one task takes longer than you planned. Plan to have space in between tasks, meetings and activities – no scheduled things, just space. Along with that spend at least 5 minutes a day doing nothing.
Just sit in silence. Become aware of your thoughts. Focus on your breathing. Notice the world around you. Become comfortable with the silence and stillness. It’ll do you a world of good and just takes 5 minutes! There are lots of resources about how to do this, but really it is just sitting, getting a comfortable breathing pattern for you and concentrating on that and what is in your immediate surrounds, trying to unlock from your thoughts – leaves on a stream below, is a great exercise for this.
Become more aware of your thinking. Are you constantly worrying about the future? It is so easy to get caught up in these thoughts. The exercise above can also help with this. Learn to recognize when you’re doing this, and then practice bringing yourself back to the present. Just focus on what you’re doing, right now. Enjoy the present moment. When you feel stressed, stop and try to bring yourself back to the present, noticing 5 things in your immediate surrounds can also help centre you again. When you’re talking to someone, be present. This is a very important thing – some people are losing the ability to make eye contact when talking to someone as we are so focused on our smart phones. How many of us have spent time with someone but have been thinking about what we need to do in the future? Or thinking about what we want to say next, instead of really listening to that person? Instead, focus on being present, on really listening, on really enjoying your time with that person.
Cooking and cleaning are often seen as things we really do not want to have to fit in with our busy lives. In fact these can be great times to practice mindfulness, and as we do them most days, can be practiced each day. If cooking and cleaning seem like boring chores to you, try doing them as a form of meditation. Put your entire mind into those tasks, concentrate, and do them slowly and completely.
Like anything, being mindful takes work and practice but in the end it will make a big difference to your life and if you can teach your children this when they are young, they will really have a fuller and more wonderful life as well.