Practicing mindfulness requires you to be completely and unjudgingly open and honest with yourself. So it is extra important that you do so gently, with loving-kindness and compassion for yourself. The 3 pillars to practicing mindfulness are:
The 3 pillars are meant to help you keep you on track. When practiced together, the 3 can help you master your own mindful life.
1. Self Awareness - the art of observing yourself without analyzing.
The most fundamental piece of mindfulness. If you haven't actively tried practicing this, you probably don't even know how oblivious you are. I try to practice all the time and I still find myself completely unaware of how I am showing up in the world!
Self awareness is the practice of watching yourself as a third party observer - witnessing your thoughts, words, actions, interactions and their results on the world around you - without passing judgement. It is to be gentle and impartial. In time, you learn to step outside of your own mind and perception of reality and begin to understand your real and true place in any given situation.
Practicing awareness, you learn to see yourself and the product of yourself in the world.
Self awareness requires clear-seeing. Often, your story (your beliefs, opinions, ideals, experiences, understandings) fog your view of reality - you see the world, not as it is, but as you are. You have your morals, values, beliefs and ideals. You have an idea of yourself in your mind of who you are, or who you would like to be. However, most of us haven't the slightest understanding of ourselves or the product of ourselves in reality. Clear-seeing teaches you to see what is. Catch yourself when you start pondering, evaluating dissecting a situation, a person, a happening. Awareness both helps you to and requires you to recognize when your story distorts reality.
The more you practice bringing yourself back to reality, the more you'll recognize your patterns of escape. How do you interact with others - your friend, your family, your loved ones, your enemies, even people you pass on the street? What do you do when your bored, sad, lonely, uncomfortable? What are your coping mechanisms? What do you do when you're waiting in line for coffee, walking the dog, riding the elevator, driving to work? Do you spend your free time or 'in-between' time just filling up the space - texting, googling, making phone calls, watching TV, napping, reading fairy tales? Where does your mind take you? What are your fingers fidgeting with? Do you know?
It might seem a bit cumbersome, but it's necessary to watch your self in everything you do. Because your habits and tendencies and ways show up in everything you do in some way or another. This is why we must be gentle with ourselves. As soon as you feel good about your practice, you'll catch the fumbles, blunders, slip-ups. When you catch the jealousy, impatience, anger or other displeasantries of your self, you practice compassion toward yourself and gently bring yourself back to unhindered awareness.
2. Self Responsibility - being accountable for your self.
Only YOU know what is true in your mindful life. As I said before - when it comes to living mindfully, the only one who can monitor your practice is you; the only one who can guide you is you; the only one who can catch you off track and kick you back on is YOU.
You accept and enforce that you act independently of outside influence and authorize your own decisions.
You are responsible for your own thoughts, words, actions and decisions. Funny enough, I find a lot of people have the hardest time with this piece - myself included. We tend to have a hard time taking ownership of our unpleasant outbursts. We like to link it to an extraneous cause - something he did, something she said, something they forgot. But you chose that reaction. You allowed the thought to linger, the words to leave your mouth, the intention to be misaligned.
It's straight up hard to be responsible for our every action and interaction. Sometimes, it's really, really painful to be accountable for our emotions and reactions and even our reception of others. Blame is easier. But you act independently of others and outside influence. You are the only one with jurisdiction over your decisions. So practice it over and over and over, day after day after day.
3. Self Discipline - the act of training in everything you do, to develop awareness and responsibility to foster mindfulness.
Discipline is the cornerstone of living mindfully, the key to your growth. As you incorporate the practices of self awareness and self responsibility into your everyday life, you'll see that there needs to be more than just the two. You need the glue that holds your practice together. If there is no discipline, there is no forward progress.
If you have no discipline, you have no structure. It's like your liability insurance. Self discipline helps you shave away the baggage that doesn't serve you. When you become aware of behaviors that don't align with your intentions or aspirations, you [gently] redirect your thoughts, words or actions accordingly. You don't just let them linger. Likewise, you can't just say, "Okay, I understand that I was wrong or unjust, and I take responsibility for that," and then just keep on moving through life. Then, you're just sitting in stagnant water. Growth doesn't happen easily in stagnant water. Things just get mucky and dirty and diseased.
Self discipline is the current that pushes the water along. It is the key to your growth, and growth is the goal of Mindfulness. Like water without a current, our lives without discipline become stagnant. Things get mucky and uncomfortable and dis-eased.
Growth keeps us going.
The 3 Pillars of Living Mindfully
Though a simple concept, mindfulness is a challenge every single day.
It is a practice of your self, by your self, for your self. Your practice is entirely your own. You can include any techniques, practices, principles, philosophies that speak to you and help guide you on your own path. However, you are the ultimate authority in seeing that you are living mindfully in everything you do.