A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article on mindful breathing. Today I wanted to expand a bit on the topic of mindfulness and how we can use it in our everyday life. Before I begin, I do really want to emphasize that mindfulness isn’t some new age phenomena that can only be practiced by Buddhist monks somewhere in Asia. Mindfulness is for everyone! Here is a list of tips I use for practicing mindfulness every day. Let me know what other tips you have to add to this list J We all have at least one minute to be mindful, so find one of these tips and try it today.
1. Focus on your breathing
Take a moment from your day to pause and focus on your breathing. When we connect to our breath, we connect back to our lives. It’s normal in our busy world to periodically get stressed—perhaps even daily. Mindful breathing can help you to slow down and reconnect with your body and mind. Breathing is an unconscious activity; however, we can make it conscious whenever we choose. When we choose to mindfully breathe, we choose to bring attention and focus to our lives. By doing this, we can become truly alive and awake to our lives and live fully in the present moment.
2. Concentrate on your walking
Each step we take is a moment for mindfulness. Most of the time when we are walking, we totally tune out and don’t even realize how complex it is to actually take a step. Mindful walking is such a simple yet transformational practice you can do anytime you are moving. As you mindfully walk you can also connect with your breath as well. As you walk connect your breath and your steps together. You simply just walk with the intention of walking. Feel your feet touch the ground beneath you. Slow, calm, peaceful steps. There is no rush to get somewhere, we are already in the process of going. Try it next time you walk somewhere. Instead of just getting up and walking with the intention to get somewhere, focus your attention on the act of walking itself.
3. Listen to others
The art of listening is not an easy task. Very often our minds are wandering somewhere else while another person is speaking to us. Next time someone is speaking to you, try to fully focus your attention on what they are saying. Just listen – don’t try to interject your opinion before they’ve finished speaking. Also, make eye contact with the other person when speaking to them. This is a simple way to be mindful that can truly help you become aware of the connection you have with others.
4. Eat slowly
This is something I never really thought of before practicing mindfulness. Instead of eating your food and not being connected to it, try to eat slowly and be grateful for the nourishment that the food provides. By mindfully eating, you become aware of what you are putting into your body, which will help you develop a better relationship with food. I used to emotionally eat whenever I was stressed or upset about something, but over time I’ve become so mindful of the food I put into my body that this has pretty much stopped. (But no one is perfect, right? I totally have a sweet tooth. 🙂 ) When we become mindful of our eating we can truly understand the connection between food and the energy it provides us. Mindfully eating also helps you to really enjoy the food you are eating because you slow down to taste all the love that went into making it.
5. Stop the multitasking
I used to be a total multitasker. I used to juggle at least two or three tasks at one time, but ultimately would get really stressed out. In our world it’s totally normal to multitask. It seems like an efficient way to get more tasks done at once. However, when we split our attention between more than one task, we aren’t fully giving 100% of our attention to any of them. When we focus all of our attention on one task we are consciously creating our work and giving our best effort. Another thing you should really focus on not doing is checking your text or Facebook message while doing something else. Our phones are an easy distraction from whatever we may be doing at the moment, but it’s better to give all our attention to one task at a time.
6. Take a moment for you
It’s so easy to get caught up in everything that happens during the day, that we can forget about ourselves. It’s essential that every day we take some much needed time for ourselves. Maybe this moment works best for you in the morning, or in the evening before you sleep. That moment will be completely dependent on you. I try to do this periodically throughout the day, because it helps me to refresh and reconnect to whatever I may be doing at the time. There is no right or wrong way to do this, it’s all about recentering yourself and connecting inwards. Taking a moment for you can be as simple as stopping throughout your day to take a deep breath and smile at all you’ve accomplished already. Be kind to yourself, you deserve it!
7. Get off autopilot
Wake up. Coffee. Eat. Travel. Work. Exercise. Dinner. Sleep. The daily grind – most of us are more than familiar with it. But, are you living for work or are you working to live? Instead of being on autopilot when running from one task to the next, focus on what you are actually doing. When you stop coasting through life and start truly connecting to the process you start to truly feel awake and alive in the moment. Little tasks become more enjoyable because you are actually connected to the small details. Next time you notice yourself coasting on autopilot, take a moment to pause and become mindful. It’s a wonderful experience!
8. Mindfulness in those I so don’t want to be here moments
Waiting in line. Stuck in traffic. At the dentists. Those are my places I would rather be somewhere else. Usually in those moments I impatiently check my watch to see what time has passed. It seems like an eternity between one minute to the next. There are plenty of these moments in life we can easily get frustrated and not want to be there. But instead of making those moments ones we don’t want to be in, we can try to actually take part of them. When you are stuck in traffic, you are rushing to get somewhere usually, right? Well, you are already in the process of going and there is nothing you can do about the traffic. So next time you are in that kind of moment, stop for a moment and pause. For example, try to not get frustrated about the traffic and instead take a moment to look around you at life. Listen to the song on the radio. Look at the sky. Smile at the person in the car next to you. Reframing our thoughts like this can have a transformational effect on our lives. We have a choice to use that moment in traffic to be alive and aware of our lives. It gives us a chance to be active participants in our lives, rather than being a passive character.
9. Create a mindful ritual
This ritual will be totally dependent on you, but I find a great way to create a mindful ritual is when I make my tea or coffee. At night, I like to make myself a cup of tea to help myself connect inwards and de-stress. Instead of rushing through the process of making the tea, I like to think of it as a little tea ceremony. I become attached to the process of making the tea and everything that comes with it. I don’t impatiently wait for the tea water to boil, I let the process unfold organically. When my tea is ready for drinking I sit quietly on my couch and enjoy the warmth and soothing feelings it provides me. I always say tea warms my soul, and I truly do mean that! This little ritual is something I’ve gotten used to and it really provides me with great joy. It’s just a small way to be mindful every day and helps me to reconnect my body, mind, and soul. This tea ritual is something I use, but you can be as creative as you want and create a small ritual where you provide yourself a moment to be mindful in your daily life.
10. Take a moment to be grateful that you are you
I totally understand that this last point may seem a bit straightforward but how often do you wake up and tell yourself how happy you are that you are alive? Or how often do you wake up and tell yourself that you are happy with yourself and all you’ve accomplished? Be mindful that you are a wonderful person that can create the life you want. Be compassionate with yourself. If you are like me, you might periodically get into moments of a lot of negative self-talk, or comparing yourself to others. Instead of focusing on the negative moments or things in yourself or your life you don’t like, take the time to become aware of all you’ve accomplished and achieved already. Take time to notice the things you do well in your life. You can achieve so much more in your life if you focus on all the positive things in your life, and be grateful that you are *you* and no one else. You’re a special soul – we are all unique. Don’t forget that!