We all have heard of the concept of becoming more mindful. But what does that actually mean in our everyday lives? Is it strictly tied to various forms of meditation or breathing exercises? It can be, according to the experts, but in actuality, it is more practical and something you can even do on a daily basis.
Utilize the ideas below to become a more mindful person, and your body and mind will thank you.
1. Slow down
Our culture is one of business, effort, deadlines, striving, and achieving. The information age has us racing through life at a pace that would make our forefathers’ heads spin— but are we happier? Many of us rarely allow ourselves to slow down and be fully present for the precious moments of our lives, and we’re shortchanging our lives living like that. Physically slowing down helps us to mentally slow down. We get more pleasure out of life when we slow down like this. Take some time out to eat a meal and really connect with your family (With the TV off!). Walk barefoot on the grass, enjoying the sensation. Take time to connect with a customer instead of “selling” to them. Do one thing at a time and be there, fully. Deliberate and thoughtful attention to daily actions promotes healthy focus and can keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
2. Do meditation
Probably one of the best ways to practice mindfulness is through meditation. This practice is centered on being present and noticing what thoughts and feelings come up. There are many ways in which to meditate, all with personal preference and goal in mind. Starting a beginner’s meditation practice is a powerful way to introduce yourself to the many tools that this lifestyle will open up for you. These apps feature teacher-guided recordings for you to enjoy whenever, wherever.
Focusing on your breath is one of the simplest and most proven effective ways to be more mindful (and in turn, relaxed). Not sure where to begin? Try “box breathing”: Count to four as you inhale, hold for four, count to four as you exhale, hold for four. Repeat.
4. Spend time in nature
Take walks through a park, the woods, mountain trails, or by the beach – wherever you can be outside. Getting outdoors is good for body, mind, and spirit, and keeps you in the present.
There is nothing more present than sitting down with your thoughts and giving them an expressive outlet. Writing is another therapeutic tool at your disposal, in which you can find a rich mindfulness practice. Journaling may look like keeping a diary, or it may be choosing to write down thoughts or experiences that feel particularly heavy or confusing. This practice very often leads to clarity and uncovering a new perspective on a situation you may have not considered. Whether you write about something serious that happened or pen a letter to a dear friend or loved one, the practice will bring you back to present awareness. See if you can really settle into this space. It is rich.
4. Playing with your pet
This is one way of being mindful and absolutely loving it! Cuddles with our pets are some of the most precious moments, and they are deeply rooted in present-moment awareness. Not only does it bring you out of mental overdrive, but it has also been found to alleviate depression, curb anxiety, and lower high blood pressure! Here’s Why Keeping Pets Gives You Positive Energy. Next time you have a few minutes, throw that ball with your dog or whip out the feather toys with your cat. Not only will they appreciate it, but you can notice the ways in which you sink into the present moment. Enjoy it!
5. Practice mindfulness while you wait
In our fast-paced lives, waiting is a big source of frustration – whether you’re waiting in line or stuck in traffic. But while it might seem like a nuisance, waiting is actually an opportunity for mindfulness, Halliwell said. When you’re waiting, he suggested bringing your attention to your breath. Focus on “the flow of the breath in and out of your body, from moment to moment and allow everything else to just be, even if what’s there is impatience or irritation.”
6. Eating mindfully
Just as the prior point above explains, mindfulness in the kitchen can be an experience for all the senses. Once you’re done cooking your meal (or if someone is cooking for you), another way to practice mindfulness is to be aware of how you eat. So often, we chew our food quickly or are distracted by external stimuli, like a TV or our phone. Try practicing being aware of your mealtime: smelling the food, noticing the colors and textures, chewing slowly and fully to activate all the flavors, and pausing between each bite. This will not only help you savor the experience, but it will also help you decide when you’re actually full. It is a well-known dieting technique shown to have positive benefits. Start to eat mindfully.
7. Come to your senses
The essence of mindfulness is the ability to let go of the mind’s noisy compulsive chatter and to touch deeply the stillness that lies underneath. To be mindful is to be in a state where you’re highly alert and not ‘lost’ in thinking.
To access the state you can use your senses. Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing give your senses your fullest attention. You can turn any moment into a mindfulness practice by this method.
Whatever you sense, go into it fully. Explore the world with your senses. Visually observe details of your environment, such as the curve or a tree branch or the arch of a doorway or the play of light in the room you are in. Be fully engrossed in the looking but without mental labeling of any kind. Look with ‘bare awareness’.
As you go about your day be mindful of the feel of the sun on your skin or the wind in your hair when you leave the house. Be mindful of the softness of a chair, or the smoothness of a stone. Take a breath and put your focus on what scents you’re taking in.
To be fully engaged in sense perception like this draws attention into the moment and out of all that mental noise. It brings a sense of fresh aliveness and wonders into our day.
Mindfulness practice is a simple commitment to staying present to whatever you’re doing. Whether you’re in traffic, at work, with loved ones, or alone, you can practice slowing down and becoming aware of what’s going on around you and within you. This will greatly benefit your mental, physical, and emotional health, as well as the relationships you nurture in your life and community.