“Wherever you are, be totally there.” Eckhart Tolle
Modern life is fast, and we’re expected to keep up at all costs even if it means losing mindfulness.
Fast is good, slow is bad. But, can I ask you something?
What did your breakfast taste like this morning?
What did you hear on your commute to work?
Did you leave footsteps on the sidewalk after you walked over the wet grass?
What did the air outside smell like?
Did your doorknob feel cold when you opened your door?
This is what we miss out on when we live on autopilot – the experience of being human. What it feels like to be alive and to live our unique life to its fullest extent.
We only get one lifetime. Living a full life doesn’t require you to climb Mt. Everest, visit the moon or even travel outside of your hometown. (If you feel called though, don’t let anything hold you back!)
But if you feel that life is passing you without you really realising it, maybe it’s time to slow down, and start experiencing life more consciously. More intentionally. More mindfully.
Practicing mindfulness helps us to do just that.
Why Should We Practice Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is simply being fully present in whatever we are doing and wherever we are. How is this helpful?
Many studies have proven the benefits of mindfulness:
- fosters calm and focus even when under extreme stress
- helps reduce anxiety
- helps you become more self aware, an important starting point in positive self-development
- helps you concentrate and focus more effectively,
Mindfulness isn’t abstract or complicated. It’s legitimate, science-backed and easy to integrate into daily life.
Here are 9 simple but effective ways to incorporate mindfulness into your day
Pay attention to your emotions
We experience a myriad of different emotions throughout the day. Some are negative, some are positive.
Notice as strong emotions arise. Remember that you’re in control of how you express our emotions. Even though others may encourage emotions to arise, you’re still the master of yourself.
Engage your mind by gently asking yourself what you’re feeling. Where do you feel it? Become aware of how a particular emotion expresses itself in your body.
With practice, you’ll be able to detach yourself from your emotions and find healthy ways to feel good.
Become aware of automatic behavior
Like being on autopilot, automatic behaviour is when we do things without real awareness. Try to approach your usual activities with a mind switched on. You’ll start identifying behaviours that don’t serve you. Once they’re out in the light, it’s easier to address bad habits and make changes that benefit you.
Spend time in nature
Being in nature provides you with an opportunity to tune in to all the senses. With so much to enjoy, it’s a pleasant exercise to practice bringing your mind to the present moment.
Bring your awareness to all the tiny details – the feel of the sun (or the feeling of cold), the sound of leaves, the colors around you. Focus on little things like the way your arms swing or the way your hair moves in the wind.
Even going for a walk around your neighbourhood can be turned into an exercise in mindfulness.
Practicing mindfulness while eating
Eating and preparing food is another excellent (and daily) opportunity to instil mindful habits into your life.
With the intention to bring your attention and thoughts right back to the ‘now’, remove distractions like phones, TV, radio, etc.
Focus only on your meal. Chew slowly. Eat slowly! Appreciate the flavors, the textures. This means eating will become an experience that is enjoyable and satisfying.
I’ve written more about mindful eating habits here if you’re interested in tips on developing a more conscious way of eating and preparing food.
Practice a hobby or do something creative
Doing something creative that you love is a great way to bring yourself back into awareness. I love to cook and experience a great sense of calm and enjoyment from preparing meals. Practicing hobbies like playing an instrument, drawing and many others allow for focus and attention while feeling relaxed and nurtured.
Try a Body Scan Meditation
I find a body scan meditation is an extremely effective tool and easy to practice at any time in the day. Find out exactly how to do a body scan meditation in my blog here.
Bring your attention to each part of your body. Ask yourself how each part feels. Release tension and stress as you find it. Allow yourself to accept positive energy in your body and release negative emotions and feelings.
Body scan meditation is an amazing way to reconnect to your feelings, to lower anxiety levels and feel more relaxed and in tune with yourself.
Start a mindful morning routine
I’ve found that by practicing self care in the morning, I’m able to approach my day with a calm, ordered mind. The goal is to create a routine where you start the day by taking care of your body and mind.
This can mean different things each day depending on how you feel or what you need. Create time just for yourself before you get ready for work or before your family is awake.
I’ve shared 9 ideas you’re welcome to use in creating a mindful morning routine for yourself.
Use moments like preparing your morning drink to practice mindfulness. Focus on the water boiling, the sound of it pouring into your cup, the smell and taste of it. Choose a task to do with absolute awareness and attention to every small detail.
Check in with yourself
Throughout your day, create a habit of checking in with yourself. Ask yourself questions like, What am I doing at this moment? Do I need to get up and move? Am I thirsty? Do I need to stop what I’m doing and look up from my screen? What emotion am I feeling right now? Is my body comfortable?
Become aware of your actions, feelings and thoughts at that particular moment. Maybe you’ll want to stop or change what you’re doing.
Practicing mindfulness in this way really helps cancel out automatic behavior so that you can start living more intentionally and purposefully.
Practice Mindfulness In Your Interactions
Have you ever found yourself being asked a question in a conversation, and you realise your mind had drifted off? Practicing listening skills is a mindful way to improve your relationships with the people in your life.
Pay full attention to a conversation you’re having. Ask questions and be an active participant. Put your phone away and limit distractions. Enjoy the experience of really hearing and understanding.
Mindfulness is not complicated. Try simply bringing your attention back from wandering around to being focused on what is right here and right now. It’s about becoming aware of your feelings, your thoughts, and all your senses. It’s an empowering practice that you can begin today and start experiencing amazing benefits in no time.