Mindfulness - to us - is one of the most important principles of all. But what exactly does "mindfulness" mean? And does mindfulness have a measurable effect? On this page, we'd like to explain our understanding of mindfulness and show you how you can become a more mindful person today.
Introduction & Definition
Many associate mindfulness with the state of ultimate stillness. They imagine a person who sits on the floor for hours meditating in a lotus position and then starts the day balanced and smiling happily.
No question - meditation and stillness can be a part of mindfulness. But for us, mindfulness is much more. It's a moment when you feel fully alive and completely connected to yourself and the world around you. A moment that can be fun. In which you might laugh out loud. In which you forget the future and the past. Or just being with yourself.
Maybe you have already experienced such a moment? A short moment in which everything was perfect, in which you were completely satisfied with yourself. Maybe during sports? While cooking? After a date? Or maybe while cleaning up and tidying up?
Mindfulness allows you to experience those kinds of moments, that feeling of happiness and self-acceptance, more often.
Or to put it more formally:
"Mindfulness describes the effort to arrive at oneself through conscious pausing. In everyday moments, mindfulness provides for deceleration and a focus on the here and now. In the long run, mindfulness provides inner peace and a more conscious life." - Jan Lenarz (Ein Guter Plan)
How does mindfulness work?
As you can see above, mindfulness is not at all about being good at something or doing it right. Just making the effort - that is, thinking about mindfulness right now - makes you more mindful.
For many people, this conscious pausing feels unusual at first. Maybe even uncomfortable, as the brain is thrown out of its usual routines and suddenly has to expend energy on something new and unfamiliar.
But don't worry: the more often you consciously pause, the more your body will get used to this new state and you will see that you can come more and more quickly and deeply into a state of aliveness and joy.
In the following, we will show you a few techniques that you can try out in your everyday life without any obligation - without any prior knowledge. They will help you to find a sense for your intuition and to calm your thoughts.
How do I become more mindful?
For us, mindfulness starts simply with a small moment that feels light, where you are connected to the world around you and accept what is already there. Let's do a little experiment on this.
Don't worry, it's really quite simple and everyone should have done it themselves once. It is really amazing.
Just close your eyes... and concentrate only on your hearing for 60 seconds. Try to detect all the sounds that are around you at that moment. It's not about finding out if they are pleasant or disturbing. It's just about really discovering ALL the sounds that are present in this moment.
What do you hear? Is there music playing somewhere in the background? Do you hear sounds from the street or the next room? The neighbors, an electrical appliance, the rustling of your clothes? Or do you perhaps hear nothing at first?
Still reading? Set a timer right now and try it once. Like a detective, try to really find all the sounds that are there - even the inconspicuous ones - and listen to them for a moment.
And - what did you hear?
If you've just done this exercise, then you've just been mindful for 60 seconds. Not so hard, is it?
Perceive the world with all your senses
You have just fully engaged in the moment and felt the essence of something that was already present in your life without judging it.
Sounds are only one possible example. You can also try this exercise with all your other senses:
Sit with your eyes closed and try to really FEEL with all your body parts everything that exists around you. How does your little toe feel right now and what is touching your back? Or while eating with your eyes closed, chew consciously and slowly and really try to taste every little nuance and ingredient of your food.
Notice the world around you with all your senses.
You will be amazed at how many exciting things exist around you all day that you have never consciously noticed.
Little exercises like this you can do everywhere: On the train, during your lunch break, while walking home through the rain, or just before an important meeting.
Mindfulness is a skill you can learn. And the more often you have these experiences, the lighter and deeper these brief moments will feel. Best of all, you don't need a special place, a retreat, or expensive equipment, just your body and a little curiosity.
How to cultivate mindfulness in everyday life
The exercise above, was just a small taste of what mindfulness can feel like. We'll show you several ways to experience mindfulness in your everyday life below.
Not every method is right for everyone. Just try different techniques and discover which one you like right away. Maybe there is a technique that is terrible at first - but after you are done with it, it feels strangely good?
Find out for yourself, be curious and discover to perceive the world around you in a new way.
1) Categorize less
Our bodies are trained by evolution to be as efficient as possible with energy - after all, our Stone Age "I" never knew when there would be food again. Something our head does quite automatically to save processing time in the brain is to sort everything experienced and seen into categories. This saves an enormous amount of energy - you don't have to consider that a tree is a tree when you see it. But by doing this, we also tend to generalize a lot of things without discovering what is special about each individual. And often we simply overlook something as a result.
In everyday life, we are constantly surrounded by influences that tell us how to see something: Advertising, friends, family, work, news, social media....
To be mindful, you can take a step back, and break things you see and hear into parts. What colors is the object in front of you? What texture? How does it feel? What does it look like when you get really close to it with your eye?
Challenge for you: Mindful walk
Challenge yourself! Walk around the city for five minutes and try not to read a single word. You'll notice how difficult this is - how often our brain wants to read everything right away. Now observe: what meaning does the object in front of you take on when you ignore the words on it? And how does the billboard appear if you really only look at the object behind it? How do you feel now?
2) Forget the cliché of mindfulness
Distance yourself from the idea of how mindful people live. It doesn't have to be a perfect, calm morning routine, you don't have to go to yoga or meditate.
Outside it's pouring rain and you only have 5 minutes? Open the window, put your hand out to the drops, smell the scent of the rain and try to feel each drop. This is also mindfulness and you might be surprised how great such a small rebellious act, a deviation from the grind of everyday life can feel.
3) Talk more intensely with your favorite people.
The next time you talk to a trusted person, try to forget your own thoughts and really just engage with the other person. It doesn't matter what you want to say, how you are feeling or what clever thoughts you have.
Just listen without saying anything yourself - until it gets really uncomfortable. You will be amazed at how much and how long your counterpart can talk if you just give him the space to do so. And then when silence eventually returns to the conversation, don't tell anything about yourself, but ask a question like "oh and how was that?" "how are you doing with that now?" or "and what do you think about that?"
You'll be surprised how little we really listen to each other, what deep emotions and thoughts of our counterpart we miss, and how magical new avenues of conversation open up when we simply let others finish talking.
Of course, you can also meditate in a very classical way. We have instructions for meditation with mantras for you in this article. This kind of meditation is especially good for beginners, because you can focus your thoughts on a mantra instead of just "doing nothing".
Find your path to mindfulness
We are quite sure that you will find your own path to mindfulness. Resist the need to research everything first, to want to understand everything, and to invent a reason why you can't get started right now.
Remember: It 's not about perfection! Just start, notice what is happening around you. This is the only way to find the path to mindfulness that works best for you.
All you need is five minutes of conscious time. You already know the rest.