You know when you're rushing out the door distracted by your long to-do list? Before you know it, you're triggered by the littlest things?
In those moments, it doesn't take much to set you off. The next thing you know, it's just another stressful day in the life, right?
The cycle tends to repeat itself; being rushed causes stress, and the stress makes you feel more rushed. This can be incredibly draining on your energy!
The good news is that you don’t need to be stuck in these patterns. The practice of mindfulness (even just a couple of times throughout your day) will improve your mood, perspective, and habits.
As I talked about in my previous blog about mindfulness, it doesn't have to take much to start a practice that can have a profound impact on your life experience.
It’s as simple as tuning into your senses
You can literally be anywhere, at any time, and simply bring your awareness to the following:
Sounds: Don’t overcomplicate. Observe what you hear, but not the depths of labeling, naming, or judgement.
Smell: Bring attention to scents around you. Take them in, but don’t focus too hard on them. Just allow yourself to be aware in the presence of what is in the air of your environment. And if what you smell is "nothing', so be it!
Sights: What colors and objects do you notice? Don’t allow this portion to become overcomplicated, simply observe.
Touch and Feeling: What does the ground under your feet feel like? How is the air of your environment meeting your skin? What sensations can you feel with your hands, even without moving them.
Where Mindfulness meets your day-to-day
From the moment you wake up to the time you crawl back into bed at night, there are countless ways to put mindfulness into practice.
It can be as simple as slowing down during your morning routine instead of rushing and letting your mind wander into your to-do list for the day:
You can spend time in the silence of your bathroom, focus on the way your bare feet are meeting the cold tile floor, and even observe the sound of the running sink water.
While you sit to eat breakfast, you can pay attention to little things like the sound of the sizzling pan or the way the wind is blowing the trees in your backyard.
When you're in your car, you can take a moment to observe the way the weight of the car feels underneath you, or the sound of your tires on the fresh pavement.
Bam! Just 1 hour into your day, and you’ve practiced mindfulness!
Mindfulness and Movement
There’s a reason that I LOVE combining mindfulness and movement, and that’s because I dedicated my entire Master’s thesis to studying its effects on reducing anxiety. Talk about multitasking :).
Mindful movement is exactly what it sounds like: the awareness of your body and the physical sensations you are experiencing.
Because many of us feel challenged with sitting in silence for a mindfulness or meditation session, combining movement with the practice is a great option. People with ADD or ADHD can especially benefit from an option like this.
This can be a mindful walk or run without the distractions like music, yoga, tai chi or qigong. It may also be through dance, strength training or any other modality where the mind can solely focus on the experience of the activity.
Mindfulness as a deliberate practice
If you’re feeling ready, take a moment right now to try this as I explain it in the steps below:
Take a seat, preferably in a place that is calm and quiet for you.
Set a timer. If this is your first time, this can be as little as 2 minutes.
Observe your body and senses. Position yourself as comfortably as possible.
Breathe and notice your breaths as they go in and out.
Be patient and kind when your mind wanders, and guide yourself back to your breath when it does.
Always end with kindness to yourself, and observe how you feel.
Some immediate benefits that result from mindfulness practice include:
Improved cognitive abilities
Take some time this week to dive into the daily practice of mindfulness. Identify areas it can be incorporated into your day-to-day life, and take note of how you feel as a result of this process.
There is no wrong place to start. Remember, practicing mindfulness can be simple, and doesn't require anything extra other than your awareness. If you’re feeling ready to continue advancing your experience with mindfulness, stay tuned for our next blog on mindfulness and emotions!