Being mindful of the present and living in the moment seems such a simple, straight forward, no-brainer thing, yet seems to escape most of us. So much so that it has become a hot topic for many books, blogs, and seminars.
Why is it that such a simple thing as being mindful seems so elusive to apply in our everyday lives?
The answer is simple. We have not yet consciously developed the habit of training ourselves to be more mindful.
In today’s age of information overload where we are constantly bombarded by the ever-increasing data and information, hundreds of messages and notifications, dozens of tasks in our daily to-do list, we spend most of our lives running from one thing to the next.
Even though with all the knowledge and information readily available to us, Deep reflective thinking and contemplation have become a rare occurrence in our lives.
Even with all the facilities and blessings available to us today than it has ever been in the history of humanity, we still rarely enjoy the small details of life and pay attention to our everyday blessings.
In this guide, we’ll look into what it really means to live mindfully, how mindfulness impacts our experience of life, the importance of mindfulness in the light of science and spirituality, and finally, we’ll dive into practical steps that can be easily incorporate into your daily life so that you train yourself to live more mindfully, and experience and enjoy every ounce of your life.
Towards the end of this guide, I have a 10-day action plan for you that is based on the knowledge and practical steps I’ll be touching upon throughout this guide. So READ THIS GUIDE MINDFULLY!
What is MindLESSness?
Have you ever thought of an old memory or saw an old picture/video and were surprised at how many years have gone by since?
Has it ever occurred to you that you passed by a place you’ve known for several years, yet one day you notice something that you never noticed before, even though it was right there all the time?
Have you ever bought your favorite thing to eat, but after just a few bites you lost track, and suddenly you were just left with the wrapper in your hand?
Yep, that is mindlessness.
The consequences of being too mindless and living life unconsciously can be far worse than just missing out on the taste of your food or the details of your surroundings.
For many of us, our lives are passing us by year after year without we ever being mindful of our time. Mindlessness is the reason why days pass by like hours, months pass by like days, and years seem to pass by as if they were months.
It even affects our health greatly. Our bodies try to give us hints and signals of some possible issues that it might be having due to our lifestyle and eating habits.
But since we are seldom mindful of our bodies, we tend to ignore those signals until it becomes a bigger problem and reaches the point where there is no other option but to pay attention.
The same goes with the other areas of our lives. Our relationships, our professional life, our mental and spiritual health. If we are not mindful of them, we’ll fail to see the signals early on. And because of our mindlessness, those problems may eventually get to the point where we are left with harsh consequences and difficult decisions to make.
What Does It Mean To Be Mindful And Live In The Present Moment
Have you ever paid attention to what is usually going on in your head most of the time? Give it some thought. Where do your thoughts usually wander most of your everyday life?
You might notice that the majority of your thoughts usually gravitate either towards what happened in the past (even if that’s just a few moments ago) or towards what will happen in the future (even if it’s just a few minutes ahead of the present moment).
This is how we miss out on the present moment.
Even at this very moment as you are reading this guide right now, in the back of your mind your subconscious thoughts might be wandering around what you’ll do later on today, or you might be letting something that has already happened occupy your mind and influence your moods in the present moment.
When we think about it on a deeper level, the past has already gone. Technically, it is not there anymore except in our minds. We keep on repeating the same movies, pictures, sounds, and feelings over and over again in our heads. That is the reason why the past seems to affect our present so much.
On the other hand, the reality of the future is that it has NOT happened yet, except in our minds. In our heads, we keep making all kinds of assuming regarding what might happen.
This is how we often overthink and put unnecessary stress on our mind and body.
The fact is, the past cannot be brought back, it has perished into non-existence. Yes, the effects might be there in our present because we are “reliving” it constantly in our heads. Recreating the same experiences over and over again, oppressing ourselves selves and doing injustice to our present life and it’s blessings.
The future is never guaranteed. You can’t even guarantee your next breath. As harsh of reality as it might seem, it is also liberating at the same time if you see in a positive light.
It’s great to plan ahead, in fact, it’s a must! I talk about living a life of vision and purpose all the time. But being obsessed with it to the point that you neglect what you have right now is, quite frankly, being ungrateful.
A life of Mindfulness and Living in the Present is a life that is balanced between learning from the past, planning for the future, and at the same time remembering that neither the past nor the future exists at this very moment.
The present moment, NOW, is all that we really have.
Importance of Mindfulness In Islam
This balance of mindfulness and living in the present is ingrained in the very fundamental belief system and the way of life Islam offers. Islam has a very rich tradition of mindfulness, meditation, and contemplation. Let us look into a few:
What We Get in The Next Life Depends on What We do Today.
Islam gives us a sense of a greater achievement ahead in the next life, but that has to come from whatever we do today, in this very moment.
It teaches that each and every one of our deeds are being written down and we might be held accountable for them, thus encouraging mindfulness at all times.
“And whatever good you will send ahead for your own-selves, you will find it with Allah much better in condition, and much greater in reward”
Freedom From The Past Through Forgiveness and Repentance
Islam frees us from the past by encouraging forgiveness and repentance over and over again, so as to leave whatever happened or whatever we used to do, reform, take a fresh start, and make amends.
“O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.”
Regarding forgive to someone who wronged you:
“Reconcile with whoever cuts you off, give to whoever deprives you, and forgive whoever wrongs you.”
– Muhammad (PBUH)
Being Mindful of Our Thoughts and Intentions
The first words of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in Sahih Al-Bukhari – the second most important book in Islam after the Holy Quran – refers to the intentions of the heart.
“The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended.”
– Muhammad (PBUH)
Thus encouraging people not just do good deeds but also remain mindful of what is going on in your thoughts. Keep a check on the state of your heart and mind, which absolutely requires being present in the moment.
The 5 Daily Prayers And Recitation of Quran
The 5 daily prayers are a constant reminder to stay mindful and to ground your heart, mind, and soul back to the roots.
Prayer coupled with reading the Quran with understanding is incorporated in everyday lifestyle so as to train us to live mindfully and cherish every moment and blessing that we currently have.
Each day, a Muslim says “Alhamdulillah” (all praise be to Allah) in prayers so many times which is a universal expression of gratitude among Muslims. If we just pay more attention to the actual meaning of what we are reciting, we will naturally train ourselves to live a mindful life filled with gratitude.
11 Practices To Be Mindful And Live In The Moment
1) Get Rid of the Things that You Don’t Need
We all have some possession that we keep as a reminder of the past or things that we “think” might be of some use in the future.
Wouldn’t you agree that many of the things we hoard – that we think might be of importance – we rarely ever see them in years. They rot in our cupboards and closets never really seeing the light of the day.
But when someone tells us to get rid of them, why do we find it so difficult to throw them or give them away when we rarely even see them, let alone using them.
The reality is, it’s not actually about the usage of those material possessions but our psychological association with those things. We cling on to the past or to the worries of the future.
Believe it or not, those things that we unnecessarily hoard put an indirect burden on our subconscious mind. Consciously we might not pay attention to them on a day to day basis, but our subconscious mind kept a track of everything.
That is the reason why when you rid yourself from those extra things, you will feel a deep sense of relief, almost as if a burden is lifted off of your shoulders.
Initially, you might feel some sense of loss because you had been clinging on to those things for a long time, but after a while, you will be relieved that you did that.
This is one of the most important practices to train your mind to Live in the Present Moment and focus on what is NOW, instead of subconsciously clinging to the past or future.
Islam also teaches us this same exact way of living. To detach our hearts from the material possessions and live your life on this earth as if you are a traveler.
Because let’s face it. We ARE actually travelers that are here on this earth for a short amount of time before we pass on to the next phase of existence.
That is the reason we will be held accountable for the unnecessary possessions that we hoarded in this world.
2) Don’t Dwell on What You Have Accomplished Yesterday
If you are too satisfied with your past achievements and are constantly talking about it to feel good about yourself, then you’re possibly missing out of the opportunity to do the greater things that might be in store for you.
It’s good to initially celebrate your accomplishments and feel good about them. But then move on after a couple of days. There is so much more to be accomplished.
3) Dive Back Within Your Body
One of the keys to living more mindfully is to “get back in your senses” literally!
We get so lost and distracted from the outside world that we lose touch of the sensations within our bodies. That is the reason why focusing on your breathing (we’ll talk about that in a bit) is often used as a simple mindfulness meditation practice as it is a great way to bring your attention back into yourself and ground our energy.
Next time when you see, hear, touch, taste, or smell something pleasant, notice the sensations in our body. How does it make you feel on the inside? Cherish the good feelings and they will amplify.
Additionally, get my Guided Deep Relaxation Therapy for FREE in which I’ll take you through the full-body scan that’ll help you activate mindfulness throughout your body. It’s downloadable, so you can listen to it anytime, anywhere.
Make it a habit to just randomly dive back into your senses during any routine activity or situation, when you’re talking to someone, or doing your chores, or working at your office. You’ll notice a sudden shift in your state as if a switch just turned on and all of the sudden things begin to appear more clear, vibrant, and details.
4) Notice Your Thoughts and Emotions in the Current Moment
Draw your attention towards what you’re thinking and feeling right now. Just notice and observe your thoughts and feelings/emotions without any judgment or coming to any conclusions. Just acknowledge them.
The practice of stepping outside of your mind to observe your mind is the art of mindfulness. Notice how thoughts are flowing in your mind, how one thought leads to another, and then to another.
Noticing how your emotions and states shift from one to the next, without analyzing or judging. Just realizing, acknowledging, and observing.
Most of humanity is enslaved by their own emotions and their own mind and thoughts.
Mastering this practice will rid you of the slavery of your emotions and thoughts.
You are not your Mind. A mind is just a tool and a resource. Your core of existence is your soul.
When we learn to get out of our mind by observing the mind, we are, in essence, empowering ourselves to operate at the level of the Soul.
5) Write in a Journal/Diary
Make it a habit to maintain a life-journal where you write about your purpose, visions, goals, life learnings and reflections.
Write your overall main purpose and visions for life, then your next 10 year goals, then the goals that you want to accomplish this year, and based on that, what are your goals for the current day, today.
Make sure all categories of goals are in alignment with each other and with your overall vision for life which ultimately serves your life purpose.
The purpose of this habit is to NOT live in the future or worry about it. Often while setting goals, people tend to link their sense of happiness and fulfillment with the achievement of those goals, thinking that they will be happy or their problems will be resolved if that particular thing happens.
This is not a healthy mentality.
The real purpose of this habit of maintaining a life-journal is so you live more consciously right NOW.
Instead of wasting time and energy in non-productive things or dwelling in the past or future, your energy gets focused towards more purposeful things right Now so that you live every moment consciously and put mindfulness and care in whatever you do.
Mindfulness meditation has been on the rise for the past few years with a variety of mobile apps and videos/audios available online that guides you to constantly focus your attention as you meditate.
Such guided meditation practices are a good place to start if you’ve never tried it before. It’s good to have a voice guide you gently through the process.
Having said that, the concept is pretty simple though and you can surely do it on your own. Just sit in a quiet and comfortable place, close your eyes, and draw all of your focus on your breath. Notice the sensation as you naturally inhale and exhale. Notice the flow of air in and out.
From time to time, external thought will wander into your mind and distract your attention. That is okay and bound to happen. Without any judgment, just gently bring your attention back to your breath.
If you’re new to this practice, your mind will wander more often. As you continue to do this practice regularly, you’ll gradually hone your mind to stay more focused on the present moment, while the distracting thoughts and ramblings of the mind that takes you away from the present moment will begin to lessen.
Meditation in Islam
There are several concepts of meditation in Islamic philosophy that come under different schools of thought. For the sake of keeping things simple and to the roots, we’ll take the basic meditative practices that are the essence of worship in Islam.
This is the most important meditative practice and most widely practiced one as well. It is unfortunate that many of us offer prayers as an obligation but not as a meditative practice that is meant to connect us with our spiritual self and with God.
A practice that is meant to heal us, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Salah is unique in the sense that it engages us in our entirety. Mind, body, and soul, all are meant to be focused towards the presence and remembrance of God Almighty.
One of the striking characteristics of Salah is that it is made obligatory on Muslims 5 times of the day. Beginning at dawn, encouraging the habit of rising with the sun and practicing mindfulness by focusing the mind, body, and soul towards the remembrance of God.
Interestingly, the timings of 3 of the 5 prayers (Salah) – depending on the time of the year – collide with our usual working hours.
When we are busy doing business or working at jobs, Allah wants you to leave that and take a little break for just a few minutes, realign your mind, body, and soul so that you don’t lose your ground and lose your values while you deal with your worldly matter.
The worldly matters, it’s problems, and it’s attraction are very hypnotizing. Allah doesn’t want you to get lost in them and lose yourself in the process. He wants you to stay connected with Him, get strength and help from Him, and stay mindful of your intentions, thoughts, and actions.
Recitation of the Quran and Reflection Upon it
Mindfully reciting the Quran while understanding its meaning whether it be through learning Arabic or simply just reading it with translation is the second core practice in Islam.
Reading the Quran on a regular basis while understanding its meaning has immensely deep effects on the mind and soul. You’ll have to do it to experience it.
Again it’s very unfortunate that so many people overlook the meaning of the Quran and even after reading it literally hundreds of times throughout their lives, never get into what the Word of God actually means.
Many of us solely and blindly rely upon what the scholars, imams, peers tell us about religion without ever knowing what Allah Almighty is telling us directly through His words.
Believe me, this practice on reading the Quran with translation will transform your life and take you to the next level of mindfulness in your day to day life.
The third meditative practice is Dhikr or Zikr, however, you wanna pronounce it. Zikr is basically focusing on and repeating any one particular word or phrase (or a set of words) that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself taught us that we know through authentic narrations.
This is the most basic form of meditative practice that you can do anytime, anywhere. Just take 5 minutes out of whatever you are doing and do zikr.
Here a free app that you can use for zikr:
7) Face Yourself
Often so many of us unconsciously try to escape and elude ourselves, not wanting to face the fact that we might not be living at our best potentials and we could have been so much more than we are.
You may not recognize this pattern immediately because you might not be thinking about this on a conscious level. Just bring your attention to it from now onwards.
If you resist or deny this before even curiously thinking about it, that is also one of the signs of escaping yourself.
We are not perfect. Nobody is. We all have made mistakes, bad decisions, been lazy, took wrong steps. That is absolutely fine.
We have our strengths as well as our weaknesses. We have our achievements as well as our shortcomings.
We have been right in some places in life, and sometimes we also have been wrong.
That is what makes us human.
“All of the children of Adam are sinners, and the best sinners are those who repent.”
– Muhammad (PBUH)
Don’t allow your shortcomings and your weaknesses distance you from your own self. Accept and acknowledge your errors. It’s okay.
Become your own best friend. Instead of constantly escaping yourself through distractions, learn to spend time with yourself. Learn to be comfortable with yourself with the constant need to distract yourself by checking your phone every 2 seconds.
From now on, just take notice of all these fidgety behaviors that we do constantly. Wonder and ask yourself, why are you constantly doing this? What is it that your mind is trying to escape from on an unconscious level?
8) Connect with Nature
With the advancements of technology and our urban lifestyle, direct exposure to nature is becoming a rare occurrence for most of us.
To maintain equilibrium in our lives and to ground our energy, it is very crucial that we make efforts to consistently stay in touch with nature in our regular lives. It should not just be limited to vacations, but a part of our daily routine.
We are made from the element of earth/soil, everything we eat comes directly or indirectly from it. Being in touch with the earth balances and grounds our overall energy.
So make it a practice to connect directly with the earth. Have a pleasant stroll on the grass or soil with bare feet. Experience that feeling consciously. Live in that moment.
Draw your attention towards how great it feels to walk bare feet on the cold, soothing grass. Notice how the entire body begins to calm and relax as your feet root down into the earth, stabilizing and grounding you like a tall strong tree.
Notice how it gently starts to revitalize and rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit, from the bottom to the top.
Feel the wind blowing, the birds chirping, the sun rising or setting.
Pay attention to the tiny living beings in nature, insects, birds, small animals, flowers, trees, grass, everything doing their own thing in an organized fashion. All obedient to God and in harmony with the laws of the universe.
9) Digital Detox
As we discussed earlier, consumption of digital media (i.e. internet and television media, phone, and any forms of screens) becomes a source of distraction and escape at a time when we really need to pay attention and focus on getting our life together.
I personally found the practice of digital detox by intuition. Didn’t knew back then that “digital detox” was actually a thing.
I just decided to listen to my soul, my inner calling and it was screaming at me to take some time off from all kinds of digital media and to spend a few days living a more natural lifestyle, clean from all the information overload and free from constant subconscious interruptions and distractions.
Undoubtedly this was one of the greatest experiences and discoveries of my life.
Since the world is now finally waking up to the idea of living more consciously and naturally, digital-detox has become a known practice.
What is Digital Detox
The basic idea of digital detox is very simple. Just turn off any screen devices for a few days. That would include your phone, computer, any form of access to the internet, television, and radio. The amount of time you take off can vary. I personally recommend at least one week.
If you want to go through a greater transformation, try 2-3 weeks.
Digital detox is a process of exploring your true natural self and reconnect with your soul and the people you love.
The reason I recommend a minimum of 7 to 10 days is because it takes some time for our brain to revert back to its natural, dispositional function.
Initially, during the first 2-3 days, some might feel a strong urge to open up their phones or consume some form of media. This is the withdrawal syndrome and it shows how much we have become addicted and dependent on media. So much so, that we don’t even want to face ourselves and real life.
After around 3 days, you’ll begin to experience life as you’ve never experienced before. Trust me. You will only know when you do it.
You might also begin to notice, all of a sudden, how much time you have in a day. Sometimes one day might feel like two.
Now it is very important to note here that, taking off from digital media alone won’t be enough for you to change your life. You have to utilize this time in positive, self-care, and personal development activities. Don’t just spend this digital detox period waiting for it to be over. Use it to heal yourself, instead. Use it mindfully.
10) Books on Personal Development
Spending a good chunk of time reading good, growth-oriented books can immensely help in clarity of thinking. When you focus your mind towards beneficial knowledge and timeless wisdom, you start to understand and make sense of everything.
Take reading as a journey of learning, self-analysis, and reflection
As you indulge yourself in a good book, new dimensions of thinking and perspectives with start to open up. You’ll find things you might have never thought of before. Actions and ideas that never passed the path of your consciousness.
Fix a good chunk of your time for reading. Start with 30 minutes a day. Then as you begin to get more involved in it, you’ll want to spend long spans of time totally immersed in reading. Exercising your intellect, thoughts, and imagination.
11) Quality Time with Close Ones
While being too focused on our own life problems, thoughts and worries, we often forget to cherish our biggest blessing of life, our family. As a result, we unconsciously distance ourselves from them, Over a period of time we notice that the quality of our relationships doesn’t seem to be the same as they once used to be.
No need to worry or regret though. It’s never too late to make things better again. We are humans and sometimes we don’t make the best of choices. It’s okay. We can make good choices now and fix things up.
Whether that is the case for you, or you have an amazing relationship with your family, either way, start spending more quality time with them.
Listen to them with patience and compassion when they discuss something with you or when they vent out.
Dedicate some time exclusively for having fun with your family. You don’t necessarily have to be extravagant and go out of the way to have some good time. A good, light-mood conversation while having some good old tea with your family will bring you joy.
Start to embrace the small joys of life, and that largely includes the daily time you spend with your family.
Set aside any conflicts and disagreements if there are any. We never know how much time we have together with our loved ones. Cherish it. Make the most out of it. Don’t leave any room for regret.
THE 10 DAY JOURNEY
While you must incorporate the above practices in your routine and make them lifelong habits, I would like to invite you to take the 10-Day journey to self-discovery and enlightenment.
Here’s how you do it. Take 10 days of Digital Detox and during that period, utilize your time by combining all of the above practices. You’ll be grateful that you experienced this 10-day life-changing journey.
- Pick a couple of good books on personal growth and wisdom, and indulge yourself in reading. Keep those books handy and read whenever you can throughout the day without any bounds of time. Immerse yourself fully in it.
- Give time to your health. Take out at least 30-45 minutes a day for your body. You can take a good walk, exercise with weights or do yoga. Whatever form of exercise you would like to do.
- Spend some time connecting with nature. Even if it’s watching the sky from your balcony, or going to a nearby park. Early morning time is ideal.
- Punctually establish the 5 daily prayers and immerse yourself in the spiritual experience.
- Begin reading the Quran with translation. As you do, spend some time reflecting upon it.
- Meditate at least 10 minutes a day (mindfulness meditation by focusing on your breath).
- Spend quality, relaxing time with your family. Help out in daily home chores. Indulge in light, humorous conversations.
- Connect with other people. Go out and meet new people or reconnect with those whom you haven’t seen in a while.
Dedicate 10 days to your well-being, happiness, and growth. If any excuses are coming up in your head right now, make an excuse for all those excuses, not for your well-being and happiness.
Take the 10 Day Journey and make the most out of it. Believe me, these 10 days can change your life if you want them to.
You can choose to live life the same way as you used to, with the same limitations and problems. Or you can choose to invest some time in yourself to transform your experience of life and “make the rest of your life, the best of your life”.
The choice is yours. Till next time.
A human being dedicated to explore and master deeper human potentials while sharing the wisdom and experiences to help fellow humans bring a positive revolution in their minds and ultimately their lives.