My journey to creating a simpler life for our family includes being intentional and mindful with both our time and our space. I want to create a home and a life full of connection, love and room to breath and explore. Practicing mindfulness is one of the methods I’m using to create my vision for a simpler life. Today I am sharing three ways I’m creating time and space in our home and our lives to live more simply and mindfully.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a term that is often used but can hold different meanings. For my purposes today, I’m using the following definitions of mindfulness:
“Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.” Pschology Today
“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” Mindful
Based on these definitions, there are two main points about mindfulness I will focus on today:
- Staying present in the moment
- Avoiding becoming attached to or reacting without intention to thoughts and emotions
Practicing mindfulness seems like a simple idea, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do! Paying attention to and staying in the present moment is really difficult to practice consistently. It is easy to zone out or go through your daily tasks on auto-pilot.
Mindfulness is about being intentional with how you spend your time and being an active participant in your life. Staying present in the moment and actively paying attention to what is going on around you, require you to retrain the way you think and act on a daily basis.
Living mindfully takes practice and intention to cultivate. But the good news is, the more you practice mindfulness, the easier and more natural it will become.
Finding a Pause to Act and React Intentionally
Another part of mindfulness is observing your thoughts and feelings, without judgment, and then letting those thoughts and feelings go without becoming attached to them or reacting without thought and intention.
Being present enough to recognize what you are thinking or feeling can be challenging. It is even more challenging to recognize your thoughts and feelings and give yourself a moment to notice and reflect on them before reacting. Instead, making a conscious choice about how you will react, and reacting with intention.
I find this especially challenging while being at home with small children. Parenting constantly tests my ability to be present enough to notice the way I’m feeling and notice my initial reactions to situations before I actually carry out that reaction. I often feel tired, overly needed, touched out and busy, and it is a real challenge for me to notice my feelings before they come out as negative reactions.
According to Mindful, “mindfulness helps us put some space between ourselves and our reactions, breaking down our conditioned responses.”
My Mindfulness Practice
Part of my goal in creating a simpler life is to live more intentionally. I want to simplify our lives so there are fewer distractions to keep me from being present and living in the moment. I don’t want to let life pass me by while I’m busy cleaning up or rushing from one activity to the next. Instead, I want to be present in my life and present with my family.
Additionally, I want to create space between my thoughts or feelings and my reactions to situations. I want to be able to give myself the space to pause, then react with intention, rather than out of habit.
Creating time and space to live mindfully is one of the reasons I am focusing on simplifying and minimalism in the first place. Below are three ways I’m working to add both time and space to live more mindfully and make room for mindfulness in my life.
Three Ways I’m Making Room for Mindfulness in My Life:
1. Clearing my physical space
This is an essential step for me to live more mindfully. A cluttered space equals a cluttered mind. Clutter and too much stuff, in general, makes me feel anxious and overwhelmed. When I feel overwhelmed with our space, it’s very difficult to keep my attention on the present moment. Instead, I’m mentally tallying up all the work that needs to be done to clean up the house and manage all our “stuff”.
Additionally, when I feel overwhelmed by too much “stuff” in our home, I find it more difficult to find that space between my thoughts or emotions and my reactions. I tend to react out of habit and/or stress. More often than not, my reactions when I feel overwhelmed by mess and clutter are less than favourable. I tend to react with impatience, frustration and yelling. That’s not how I want to live or the kind of parent I want to be.
Choosing Less Stuff to Find More Peace
I have been making a conscious effort to get rid of the excess stuff in our house, keeping only what we use and love. The stuff we bring in to our homes all takes up our time, even when we don’t realize it. We clean it, maintain it, organize it, store it, look for it, etc. The fewer things I keep in my home, the less time I have to spend taking care of them, and the more time I have to be present. The less time I spend cleaning up the same old messes, the more time I have to be present. It allows me the ability to sit down and play with my kids without worrying about all the work that’s not getting done.
The more I get rid of, the more calm and uncluttered our space is. In turn, the less stressed and overwhelmed I feel. When I feel calmer, I am better able to stay focused on the present moment. When I can be present, I find it easier to give myself a moment of pause between noticing my thoughts or feelings and reacting. This moment of pause gives me the opportunity to react intentionally, in a way that can have a positive impact on my family. Instead of negatively reacting out of frustration, stress or overwhelm.
Less stuff = less stress = more presence = more calm = more intentional reactions
2. A consistent and personal yoga and meditation practice
I have practiced yoga for many years, but the last couple of years I grew a consistent, daily practice. And what a difference it’s made! The physical practice of yoga gives me the opportunity to tune into my body and mind, notice how I’m feeling and how those feelings are manifested in my body and life. Practicing yoga consistently is teaching me to be more in touch with and aware of my thoughts and feelings, both on and off the mat.
Mindfulness In Yoga
Yoga requires mindfulness. As you move through the poses, you pay attention to the flow of your breath. And connect your movements with your breath. Yoga requires strength, flexibility and focus. When you are focused on matching your movements with your breath, or staying balanced in a challenging pose, mindfulness is essential. Without focusing on the present moment, you will probably end up falling on your face!
The more you practice yoga, the more naturally that state of mindfulness becomes. You train both your body and mind to return to the present moment by focusing on your breath. Your breath is a constant throughout every moment of your life. And yoga teaches you to return your focus to your breath to remain present and mindful.
Self Care for Mindfulness
My yoga practice has taught me a lot about how to live more mindfully. Not only that, but a daily yoga practice has made me feel great. I feel stronger and more fit than I have ever felt before.
It’s been such great self-care, something I’m doing just for me that makes me feel good. The better I feel, the easier it is to stay present. Feeling better also helps give myself that moment of pause between noticing my feelings and reacting. Then I can choose a more intentional reaction.
Meditation for Mindfulness
I am currently working on developing a more consistent meditation practice. I find it really challenging to meditate daily. But know it is so important to feel more calm, grounded and mindful throughout the day. Like yoga, meditation teaches you to return your focus to your breath to stay present and let go of any distractions that come up. Beyond that, it’s been proven that a consistent meditation practice can make you more mindful and even happier in general.
I have been working hard to develop a more consistent, daily meditation practice. Not only is it hard to find time to sit quietly by myself with two small kids around me. But I have always been someone who likes to be doing something. I don’t like to just sit and do nothing. My mind is always thinking of all the things I could be doing. So meditating is a challenge for me. Sitting quietly, staying present and not becoming attached to thoughts or ideas that come up, is not something that feels natural to me. Which tells me meditation is even more important for me to commit to!
I will share more about my meditation journey as I continue with it!
3. Keeping our schedule calm
As a family of introverts, we all require a lot of quiet, downtime to recharge. Knowing this about ourselves, we have made careful choices about how we commit our time and fill our schedule. Having too many commitments stresses me out and makes me feel frazzled and drained. It also seems to overwhelm my kids and takes the fun out of activities when they are too frequent or rushed.
Making sure to schedule a lot of downtime gives us the opportunity to notice what we are feeling in the moment and adjust accordingly. With fewer activities and commitments, I can adjust our days to match our needs and moods. Leaving unfilled time in our schedule is essential to be able to do this. When I notice we are needing a quiet day to recharge, it’s easy to do because we have space in our days and schedule.
It also gives us the time to enjoy where we are and what we are doing. Without feeling the need to rush to the next activity. It’s hard to remain in the present moment when you feel rushed and frazzled, constantly planning and preparing for the next activity. Instead of having time to enjoy whatever you are currently doing. Fewer activities and more downtime let us all be more present in the moment and mindful of our activities, thoughts and feelings.
Using Mindfulness to Create Better Days
These are three ways I am creating both time and space to live more mindfully. I find the days where I am able to feel more present in the activities we are doing, and find that brief moment of pause between noticing my thoughts or emotions and reacting to them, to be better days. Days where I go to bed feeling content and peaceful. Knowing I used my time intentionally and fostered a strong connection between our family. They are the kind of days I want more of. The actions above are how I hope to continue living more mindfully and create more of those days.
What are some ways you try to live more mindfully? Leave a comment below and share your tips for living mindfully!