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When a college friend first introduced me to the idea of mindfulness, I didn’t pay much attention. I chopped the possibility of doing mind exercises right there and then, even if I haven’t even done anything to know more about it. My mindset was simple, “Why would I practice being aware of things when I can just devote time to actually work on my deadlines?”

I was on the impression that if I get up close with my ‘now,’ it would be too much to handle. But you see, that’s where I was wrong: mindfulness is all about being engaged with the present, free from internal judgment, with no sense of the past and the future. It was just that, it cleanses all the prejudices you have of yourself to be able to perform your best version at the moment.

I haven’t been doing mindfulness exercises for very long, but here are some things I’ve learned on my personal journey:

Mindfulness is only an aide

When I finally got into meditation, I thought it was going to be a be-all-end-all solution to my otherwise chaotic person. However, it’s not something you consider a ‘big event,’ it’s just an extra something special you do for your wellbeing. After all, every one of us already has the capability to be present, mindfulness just takes you further than that.

Mindfulness is a way of life — however that may go for you

It’s not just something you schedule for a few times a week (or daily for some people). In fact, you don’t schedule it at all since you can do it whenever you feel like it. It’s more of a lifestyle than a practice, and you’d see how it helps if incorporated in daily life — you can engage more into your friends’ interests, pay more attention to your colleagues’ problems in the workplace, etc.

Mindfulness doesn’t require anything from you

One of my biggest issues starting was thinking how I should change because I am doing mind exercises — which is all sorts of counterintuitive because mindfulness doesn’t demand that you be transformed into some version of yourself going out of the practice. Since the whole thing runs on being in touch with your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, it just needs you to be in your most human state.

Mindfulness is ultimately personal

The best thing about mindfulness is in its being subjective. There are many ways to go about it: you can learn in class with other people, you can use apps for simple day or nighttime sessions, or you can do it and coach yourself whenever you need it. I have tried all that I’ve mentioned and I can personally attest that classes do not work better for me than the last two options. I find myself thinking better when I do it with a mindfulness app after waking up in the morning and before going to sleep at night. It also gives me a sense of progress since I can see the streak in my board after every mindfulness cycle, which is always good to know.

The beauty of mindfulness is in your freedom to choose and do what works best for you. I’d recommend trying and testing out different means so you can really find the right fit.

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