Mindfulness — it’s more than a buzzword. It’s a practice that can lead to greater wellbeing and mental clarity.
Sounds good, right? After all, who wouldn’t want to shrug off some stress and anxiety and all of the ill effects they impose on a body? But with today’s cacophony of dings for your email, the trill of the phone, the blare from the TV, honking cars and all the other sounds that permeate everyday life, how do you bring your full attention to the present?
We have a few tips that range from simple acts to more structured methods:
While many associate mindfulness with meditation, there are some very simple things you can do to practice mindfulness, other than meditating:
Pay attention. Easy to say, hard to do. Try to use all your senses to experience your environment. How does the floor/ground feel beneath your feet? What are you hearing? What do you see? You get the picture. Now, try to be aware of all of these things at once.
Engage. This goes along with paying attention. Next time you’re with someone, give them your full attention. Hear what they are saying. Look into their eyes. Listen to the sound of their voice and how it might lilt in a certain way. Don’t let your thoughts shift to what you’re going to say next.
Slow down. That’s another one that might be easier said than done. Remember the Adam Sandler movie, “Click”? He used a magical remote to fast forward through things he found unpleasant and soon found that he was also rushing through things he wanted to experience. You’re doing the same thing when you’re rushing through work, chores, etc. Instead, slow down and notice what’s around you. That warm water you’re using to wash dishes feels nice on a chilly day. Feel the strength of your muscles when you take out the trash. The fabric feels soft against your skin when you pull on a sweater. Take the time to appreciate what’s around you.
Mindful eating. At one time in your life, your parents probably told you to chew your food. We’re telling you to smell it, chew it and notice its texture and taste. Fully engage with eating — don’t just let it be something you do while watching television or sitting at your desk.
Mindfulness Through Meditation
If you want to take your mindfulness practice to the next level, consider meditation. If you’re new, you may want to start small. Make it part of a routine for the most benefits.
One-Minute Meditation. Think you don’t have time to meditate? All it takes is one minute. Sit somewhere quiet, close your eyes and slowly breathe in and out — five seconds in, five seconds out. Do it six times and you have a minute! Add music by searching for “one-minute meditation” on YouTube. Don’t want to count? Set a timer.
Body scan meditation. This is pretty much what is sounds like. Get in a comfortable position — seated or lying down — and slow your breath. Try to breathe so your stomach goes up and down rather than your shoulders. Once you’re breathing evenly, send your attention to each part of your body, starting at your head (or your toes) and moving up or down. Pay attention to where you might be holding any tension in your body and imagine yourself sending breath to that area.
Guided Imagery Meditation. Take yourself on a mini vacation via guided imagery meditation. Sit or lie down comfortably and breathe deeply. Imagine a favorite place in nature that makes you feel relaxed. Add in details – the call of a bird, the scent of a pine, the whisper of wind against your face. Next, imagine a path and take a stroll down the path for several minutes, all while breathing deeply.
There are many types of meditation. You can find a list with links to practice instructions here.
If you want a little help with your mindfulness practice, here is a list of leading apps to help you reach your goal.
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