7 Easy Ways to Be Mindful in Your Everyday Life
Bringing mindful, non-judgmental attention to the present moment has been getting a very good rap these days—once thought of as solely a spirtual practice, it's gaining increasing popularity in the workplace and in pop culture. Research has found that people are substantially happier when paying attention to what they’re doing—even happier than if they’re daydreaming about something pleasant.
While the fastest way to build up a strong level of mindfulness into your life is by developing a meditation practice, the ultimate goal is to implement it into day-to-day life—to enjoy longer and longer stretches of clear, peaceful attention on the present moment. Luckily, every day is filled with opportunities to bring your attention to the present moment—it’s just about making a conscious effort. These seven ideas are just that—suggestions of where to start. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you can practice mindfulness at any moment of the day, and see how it changes the quality of your experience.
1. Mindful Waking
Setting an intention to bring mindfulness into the very first moments of your day is a lovely, gentle way to set the tone for the hours to come—rather than slamming your hand on the alarm clock and bolting out of bed in the morning.
Pay attention to: Your mind and your body. Do you feel alert or tired? Are your muscles tight? Slowly stretch your limbs and your back, noticing the sensation of each movement. Try to notice what thought crosses your mind the second you open your eyes - or even just before.
2. Mindful Eating
No matter what your day brings, there are going to be meals—or at least snacks! Reminding yourself to come back to into the moment each time you eat is a great way to insert mindfulness into your day—and it will help you to be more conscious what food you’re putting in your body too.
Pay attention to: Taste, texture, smell—there’s so much to notice in every mouthful of food. If you’re really concentrating, even a tiny raisin can make you happy! Take small bites and chew slowly, savoring as you go—and wait until you’ve swallowed to pick up your fork for the next bite.
3. Mindful Cleaning
Whether it’s doing the dishes, sweeping the floor or folding the laundry, chores present an ideal opportunity to bring mindfulness into day-to-day life. In fact, most meditation retreats encourage students to continue their practice through such tasks, outside of formal sitting hours.
Pay attention to: Whatever your hands are doing. If you’re washing dishes, notice the temperature of the water, the texture of the plates, the motion of scrubbing. If you’re folding laundry, feel the different fabrics. While sweeping, notice the movement of your arms, the stretch and extension, and perhaps even an aching as time goes by.
4. Mindful Walking
Just like eating, every day is comprised of some walking—whether it’s a long walk to work or school, or a short one to the kitchen. Every step brings with it a chance to be mindful.
Pay attention to: Your feet and legs. Notice how each foot feels as it touches the ground, rolls, and then pushes off again. Feel the bend of each leg as it moves forward, the stretch of the calf and thigh muscles. As your attention gets sharper, you can also notice the rotation of your hip joints, the swing of your arms, the straightness of your spine and the wind on your face.
5. Mindful Showering
While it is said that our best ideas come to us in the shower, washing can also be a time to step away from the non-stop flow of thoughts that fills most of the day - and really be aware.
Pay attention to: The feel of the water. Notice the temperature before you adjust and after, how each drop feels as it makes contact with your skin, the sound it makes as it hits the shower curtain, screen or tiles.
6. Mindful Waiting
Bringing mindfulness into your waiting time can turn that sigh when you first spot the long line at the bank into a genuine smile. It’s also an opportunity to notice your mind as well as your body, as emotional reactions tend to arise fast and strong when we’re forced to wait.
Pay attention to: The whole experience. Notice how you feel when you realize you’ll have to wait - does your heart beat faster? Do you feel annoyed? Angry? Perhaps your fists even clench instinctively. Does your breathing change? Once you’re sitting or standing in the line or at the bus stop, pull your attention away from the mental and emotional part of your experience, and be mindful of your body. Feel your feet on the ground, your inhalations and exhalations. Notice each and every tiny movement.
7. Mindful Listening
You know that cathartic feeling of a deep, personal conversation with a friend—when you really felt like you got something off your chest? Chances are, your friend was practicing mindful listening—whether they knew it or not. Truly being with the people around us is one of the best ways to connect and deepen our relationships - both at home and at work.
Pay attention to: Everything about the person who’s speaking to you—not just their words. Listen, of course, but also take stock of their body language, giving them your full, attention. Resist the urge to start thinking about what to say next before the other person has finished their sentence—just listen.
This article originally appeared on Goodnet and is republished here with permission.
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