Mindfulness. Its easier than you think.
Mindfulness is not something that we need to over complicate. It can be achieved by simply bringing your attention to the present moment. There is no need to clear your mind or do anything more than acknowledge and accept things as they are now, without judgment. Not always easy, but the more you incorporate this practice into your daily life, the more achievable it will become.
Routine Tasks Benefit From Mindfulness
When you are carrying out a routine task, one that needs very little attention, it’s the perfect time to practice mindfulness. Taking a shower; brushing your teeth; or washing the dishes are all perfect opportunities to explore mindfulness. You can even practice mindful walking as you travel to work or take a break at lunchtime.
As you carry out these tasks focus on the detail. What can you see, hear, smell and taste? Can you feel the warmth of the water on your body as you shower? What is the texture of the bowl like in your hand as you wash the dishes? As you focus on these details your mind doesn’t have the opportunity to wander to worries, plus even the mundane can become more interesting.
Make Your First Thought of the Day Mindful
A great way to start the day is to just sit for a few minutes and focus on the now. You could even do this sitting on the edge of your bed before you start your morning routine. Above all, ensure you do this before you check email or turn on the TV, as you want to set the tone for the day ahead. If you get distracted by what is going on in the outside world, before you have focused on your inner world, it can quickly lead to overwhelm and anxiety.
Practice in Short Bursts
Mindfulness is not something to practice for an extended time, particularly when you are new to it. Short bursts throughout the day can be more helpful, and while 20 minutes seems to be optimal, starting out with 2 or 3 minutes here and there is fine. This is particularly true if you incorporate it into routine tasks throughout the day.
You can also do short check-ins with how certain parts of your body are feeling from time to time. For example, if you know that you hold a lot of tension in your shoulders, make a mental reminder to tune in to how they feel. Are your shoulders hunched? If so take a second to relax them, or do a stretch or two to ease the tension. You can do this with any part of your body, such as how the soles of your feet feel against a cold stone floor or on a warm rug.
Ease Frustration With Mindfulness
Many times we find we get stressed when we have to wait for something, whether it’s queuing at the post office or getting caught in a traffic jam. These spaces in the day are the perfect time to explore mindfulness and can therefore be seen as opportunities rather than just something to be endured.
As you wait to move forward take a minute to focus on your breath. Are you taking short, shallow breaths because you are stressed or is your breath moving easily as you inhale and exhale? If you are stationary in traffic think about how the steering wheel feels under your hands and look at passers-by as they travel to their destinations. If you are in line at the store listen to the sounds around you. This can often take you out of yourself and make you more aware that these few minutes are a valuable part of your day, rather than something just to be got through before you can move ahead.
If you enjoy the process of mindfulness you can take it further by exploring meditation. Both these techniques help to ease stress, train our brains to be better focused and offer a number of health benefits.
Many people will argue that in their busy lives they don’t have the time to practice mindfulness. However, when you see how easy it is to incorporate this technique into your day there really is no reason not to take advantage of its benefits.