It may have started out as a buzz-worthy practice for new age lifestyles but mindfulness — cultivating a focused awareness on the present moment — is definitely here to stay. A well-documented antidote to stress, overwhelm and digital distraction, it delivers plenty of mental and physical health benefits, with meditation being key to establishing a daily mindfulness habit.
However, mindfulness can also be incorporated into our daily routines. Beyond meditation, we can practice purposefully paying attention in the present moment at many points throughout our day.
Here are a few suggestions to build more mindful moments into your everyday.
1) Focus on the activity at hand. Whatever it is you’re doing — taking a shower, drinking a cup of tea, working at your computer — keep your attention on that single task as you’re performing it.
2) Take in something beautiful with as many senses as possible. Pause for a moment wherever you are, especially if you’re starting to feel stressed or anxious, to notice something beautiful: the blooms on a plant by the window, the smile on a child’s face in line at the grocery store, the color of the sky as you’re stuck in traffic… Take a few deep breaths as you gift yourself with this small moment of loveliness.
3) Step outside. Studies have found that walking through green spaces can put the brain into a meditative state. Take a few restorative moments in nature to boost clarity, generate calmness and connect to a sense of wonder.
4) Laugh! While it’s easy to get caught up in worry and our ever-shifting emotions, laughter brings us into the present moment. Keep a sense of humor. There will always be things in life that have to be taken seriously but being able to laugh at ourselves makes it all more enjoyable.
5) Focus on your breathing. Paying attention to the breath is fundamental to mindfulness, especially since so many of us aren’t conscious of the quality of each breath we take. Pausing to intentionally inhale and exhale, noticing the depth and length of the in-breath and the out-breath, stops the chatter in the mind and brings us to a state of calm.
6) For one day, set your alarm/timer on your phone for every hour or two. When it goes off, take a minute to just check in with yourself, noticing your breath. For 30 seconds, focus on simply inhaling and exhaling. Then do a quick scan: what is your mental state, what is your emotional state, what is your physical state? If something needs to be shifted, think about how you can make that shift. If it’s not possible to do so, ask yourself how you can safely contain this feeling to return to it at a later time.
Of course, meditation still remains one of the greatest tools for bringing us into the present moment. Whether you’re new to meditating or looking to deepen your practice, the following are all great resources to explore:
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