Mindfulness is paying attention, deliberately and non-judgementally to each moment of your life. Knowing how to tap into this skill will change your life, because it's the very cause of joy. It's not something we need to save for our yearly yoga retreat, or when we see a breathtaking sunset; we can experience significant benefits by incorporating these practices into our everyday lives.
By incorporating mindfulness into your life, you can experience a release from anxiety and stress, improved physical and emotional wellbeing, more focus and intuition, along with many other benefits.
Here are 5 tips to bring mindfulness into your everyday life, starting today:
1. Breathe mindfully.
I've heard it said that if you want to save yourself thousands of dollars in therapy, simply learn how to breathe mindfully. Breathing is a good place to start, because it's something we do all the time. Although usually it’s unconscious, by tuning in, we can unify our mind and body and become tied to the present.
Try envisioning your breath as a circle. Visualize the inhales filling up half the circle then flowing directly into the exhales in a continuous motion. Whenever you notice your mind has wandered, bring it back to the breath. You'll feel tension and stress floating away.
Leave reminders for yourself throughout the day to breathe.
2. Eat mindfully for just 10 minutes a day.
So often we eat on auto-pilot, unaware that we're even eating at all. But eating is directly tied to how we feel; therefore it's so important to tune in.
Mindful eating will help you develop a love of natural foods and an ability to recognize your body’s needs. It will help control emotional eating and bring you into the present.
Not sure how to begin? Start with a piece of fruit for just ten minutes a day. Practice eating slowly and deliberately. Turn off all media and eat in silence. Chew each bite thoughtfully and carefully. Eat slowly, silently, mindfully.
3. Walk mindfully and feel the ground beneath your feet.
Mindful walking can bridge the gap between the everyday motions and tasks, and the beauty of awareness. Whether it’s getting up from your desk and shimmying to the photocopier, or going for an hour-long walk with your dog, pay attention to the ground beneath your feet, the shifting of your weight, your pace, thoughts, maybe the cool breeze or the stale office air.
Try to slow down, center yourself in the present moment and walk with confidence. We can enter into a walking meditation whenever we choose.
4. Watch your thoughts for two minutes a day.
A key to mindfulness is the understanding that your mind is experiencing many thoughts; we usually aren’t even aware that it’s happening. When you understand that your mind chatters, you can decide to not let every thought disrupt your inner peace. This is where big benefits start happening.
By watching your mind, you can prevent urges and negative thought, and eventually you can lead a stress-less life. Start by watching your thoughts for just 2 minutes each day. Sit either in traditional meditation or simply sit in silence and pay attention to your breath.
5. Do one thing at a time.
Concentration is the foundation of a mindfulness practice—after all, you can only practice to the extent that your mind is calm. Without concentration, your mind will be like a choppy sea in a storm.
Think of concentration as unwavering attention on one thing. It's the amount of time that we can stay focused before we notice our mind has wandered.
Do one thing at a time, slowly and deliberately. Every time you notice your concentration has wandered, bring yourself back to the breath. Your concentration will take time to improve, but with practice you'll gain focus, and the deeper your concentration, the deeper you'll be able to enter into mindfulness and its intoxicating benefits.
Through mindfulness, you'll reconnect with yourself and become healthier in mind, body and spirit, now and in the future, and it all starts by changing one habit at a time. If you don't think these practices will change your life, then I dare all you nay-sayers to give it a try.