If you look at any culture throughout history, you’ll find that their traditions include some form of meditation or mindfulness practice.
Christians and Muslims pray. Catholics recite rosaries. Buddhists meditate. People in India practice yoga. Native Americans perform sweat lodges…
…and so on.
So why do so many different societies evolve some sort of practice dedicated to helping people clear their minds, and access deeper levels of awareness and consciousness?
It’s because the wisest people in every culture understand the same profound truth: that the quality of our thoughts create the quality of our reality.
So if you want to experience a more peaceful, joyful and fulfilling reality, you must learn to raise your consciousness and access a higher level of thoughts.
But not all mindfulness practices are tied to religion or take the form of prayer or meditation.
Today I’d like to share some of the other interesting ways people around the world cultivate mindfulness to maximize their happiness and fulfillment in life.
In Norway, people practice a custom known as Friluftsliv (“Free-looft-sleeve”), which means “free air life.” Friluftsliv refers to spending time outdoors and soaking up the beauty of nature.
Because when you go outside and feel the sun on your face and the breeze in your hair, hear the birds singing and the insects buzzing, and see the beautiful flora and fauna around you, it takes you out of your hectic thoughts and brings you into the present moment.
You breathe deeper, your heartbeat slows, and your mood lifts as you simply breathe in the wondrous world we live in.
In Japan, people follow a similar practice called Shirin-Yoku, which means “forest bathing.”
This is actually a relatively new custom that was created in the 1980s as a kind of medicine or healing therapy (other examples include tapping therapy) intended to combat the stresses of modern living and the relentless presence of technology in our lives.
So if you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, a great solution is to take a 15-minute walk in nature. And while you’re there, focus on your surroundings.
What do you see, hear, feel, and smell?
Breathe in the beauty of it all. Consider the resilience of nature, the amazing adaptability of life itself, and remember that you too are a creature of the natural world.
It will shift your perspective and help you develop a more relaxed and positive mindset.
In Turkey, people value the experience of Keyif (“kay-eef”). This is the art of quiet relaxation and living in the moment.
The great thing about this practice is that you don’t have to go out into nature to do it. Just find a few minutes of quiet time in your day to relax, engage with your surroundings, and appreciate being present in the moment.
In Turkey it would be simply sitting on a bench by the Bosporus watching the sunset, throwing pieces of bread to seagulls from the back of a ferry, drinking wine and eating simple food with your friends, listening to gypsy musicians on the street and so on.
It’s a great way to quiet your thoughts and increase your mindfulness.
Or you could choose to practice Gemütlichkeit (geh-moot-lich-kite), which hails from Germany.
The word means “geniality,” or “friendliness” and is all about celebrating your appreciation of others.
I love this one because it’s all about getting together with the people you love and honoring their presence in your life!
It could be as boisterous as a party or as simple as making the effort to offer well wishes to everyone who crosses your path.
When you devote your time and energy to focusing on others in this way, it takes you out of your own head and helps you feel a stronger sense of empathy and connection to all of the wonderful people in your world.
Tibet: Metta Meditation
The Tibetan practice of Metta meditation is somewhat similar to this. It has nothing to do with partying or how you greet people but it does focus on cultivating a sense of benevolence and goodwill towards others.
Metta translates to “loving kindness” and involves entering into a meditative state and then consciously directing positive thoughts to other people.
In Buddhist tradition, this is one of the four sublime states of the mind.
Finally, I wanted to share the Hawaiian practice of Ho’oponopono with you.
This is what I would call a forgiveness and reconciliation practice. The word, Ho’oponopono means “to make right.”
At the surface level, it’s about reciting the mantra, “I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.”
And while you do this, you think about a person or people you have wronged, unintentionally or otherwise, and all the people who have wronged or who have upset you.
And you let go of all of the anger, disappointment, shame, sorrow, or guilt you feel.
It’s a powerful way to heal old wounds, let go of old stories, and cultivate a more empathetic connection with others – and with yourself.
If you are ever about to have a difficult conversation with someone, reciting this mantra to yourself while you focus on the other person beforehand will help you remain calm, empathetic, and understanding, so you can achieve a better outcome.
So those are just a few of the many mindfulness practices cultures all over the world have developed to help people clear their minds and enjoy happier, more fulfilling lives.
Do you notice how they are all directed at things outside ourselves?
They’re all about appreciating nature, valuing a moment of quiet relaxation and contemplation of one’s surroundings, or sending good thoughts to others in order to cultivate more empathy and connection.
That’s because when we feel connected to something larger than ourselves, we raise our vibration and are naturally happier.
Our lives have more meaning and purpose. And the world feels like a more loving and beautiful place – because it is.
Remember, your thoughts create your reality.
Do you practice any mindfulness techniques? If so, which ones, and what impact have they had on your life?