I rarely meditate effectively. Typically my timer goes off and I realize the last 10 minutes were spent thinking about what I have to do during my week. Meditating becomes counterproductive: I shouldn't be thinking, so I think about not thinking, then I can't shut my mind up!
So I've learned to practice mindfulness rather than meditation. Essentially, meditation is about relaxing and tuning out your brain; it's stillness without clatter and chit-chat. Mindfulness brings the same peace, except you're doing a task at the same time. By practicing on a daily basis it will eventually become second nature.
But you still have to practice mindfulness if you want it to become a part of your everyday life. Here are four steps to help you make mindfulness a part of your routine.
1. Bring yourself to the present moment.
When you feel like practicing mindfulness, bring attention to the present moment. Don't schedule a time when you feel you need to practice it. During your day, when you experience any negative emotion, that is the best time to do it. The negative emotion is a reminder to bring yourself back to the present moment. Aim to do this at least once a day.
2. Pick an activity.
Once you decide to bring yourself to the present moment, pick an activity to practice mindfulness doing. This will come naturally. Do whatever feels right for you at that moment. I tend to find myself listening to peaceful music and coloring.
3. Immerse yourself in the activity.
Get lost in whatever it is you are doing.
4. When thoughts come to mind, recognize them and let them go.
Do not dwell. Bring yourself back to the present and immerse yourself again. If the activity isn't working for you, switch to something else.
Most emotions — anger, sadness, anxiety, fear — are associated with the past or future. If we can learn and practice being mindful in the present moment, positive feelings will begin to reflect in our daily lives, leading to eternal bliss and happiness. We learn how to listen and follow our hearts (practicing mindfulness) rather than our minds (fear, anxiety, worry).