Somewhere along our mindfulness journey we might encounter an inner voice that whispers:
How do I stay mindful all the time?
This thought comes honestly to many of us. When we encounter glimpses of deep peace and contentment during practice, it is understandable to wonder how we might hold onto them.
Indeed, the deeper we go into our practice, the more fully we will embody mindfulness in our daily routines. However, perhaps we might take a closer look at this question – ‘How do I stay mindful all the time?’ – to gain a new perspective on what it is we are aiming for.
What Are You Seeking?
If you find yourself wondering how you can make mindfulness an ever-present state of being, consider patiently and compassionately asking yourself: What is it that I’m really seeking?
It is not uncommon that, when we bathe in the beauty of true presence and awareness, the mind creeps in to remind us about all the times we exist outside of this awareness. It creeps in to tell us that, “This won’t last.”
We might start to fear or resist the tricky realm of emotions, relationships, or other challenges of the human condition. We might start to wrap ourselves up in fears about the future, forgetting that we might continue to remember that this moment is enough.
Furthermore, often underlying our pursuit of making mindfulness ‘stick’ is a yearning for perfection or a longing to be free from the difficulties that come with this human existence. If this is true for us, we might notice that yearning with tenderness and compassion. Then, we can consider words shared by Jack Kornfield:
“If you can sit quietly after difficult news, if in financial downturns you remain perfectly calm, if you can see your neighbors travel to fantastic places without a twinge of jealousy, if you can happily eat whatever is put on your plate and fall asleep after a day of running around without a drink or a pill, if you can always find contentment just where you are, you are probably a dog.”
As we read these words, we might soften our expectations for ourselves, letting a bit of lightness and laughter into our hearts.
Now, this is not to suggest that we shouldn’t work towards an ever-greater embodiment of mindfulness. Nor is this to say that deeply engrained mindful awareness is not possible. It is simply an invitation to compassionately and curiously inquire where this question arises from within us. Is it coming from fear and avoidance or is it coming from love?
How to Be Mindful All the Time
So, if you’re still wondering how to be mindful all the time, consider the following tips, insights, and practices to increase the degree to which mindfulness permeates your being.
1. Remember that mindfulness is not synonymous with any feel-good emotions.
When we believe that ever-present mindfulness will enable us to avoid unpleasant experiences, it is important to remember that this is not what mindfulness is about. Mindfulness is simply the act of being fully present to whatever our experience may be – good or bad, joyful or painful. By softening our expectations for what mindfulness will grant us, we will learn to embrace it throughout all the waves that pass us by.
Listen to this mindfulness talk on how to work with difficult emotions.
2. Focus on mindfulness ‘now’ – not yesterday and not tomorrow.
The best way to be mindful all the time is to be mindful now. What can you open your awareness to in this very moment? All we ever have is the present moment we are in, and so cultivating an openness to whatever is here right now can help to reaffirm our presence practice.
3. Become mindful of your very yearning to be mindful all the time.
Can you be mindful of this wanting to be mindful at all times? Can you notice this thought wave without judging it as good or bad, right or wrong? Notice what emotions, beliefs, or physical sensations might be connected to this thought pattern. Then, sink into the peace of this present moment by coming back to the breath or to your direct senses
4. Set an intention, practicing compassion when you stray from this intention.
Another practice for increasing your embodiment of mindfulness if you are curious about how to be mindful all the time is to set an intention each morning. This intention might be something like one of the following:
There will likely be times when we lose sight of our intentions. When this happens, become mindful of any self-criticism you might unconsciously be sending to yourself. Harness kindness and compassion as you come back to your loving heart center.
5. Soften any yearning you might hold for perfection
Lastly, become aware of any longing for perfection that you hold. What stories or beliefs come up when you, for instance, act or speak less than mindfully? Each one of us is on a journey, and if you find yourself here on this page, your own journey is one of ever-expanding awareness. Honor the place of the path that you are on, remembering that you are perfectly whole and entirely enough exactly as you are in this moment.
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