Remaining Mindful Through it All
Kat of 'Maybe Mindful' gives us some great tips on how to introduce mindfulness into our everyday life.
Even if you don’t practice mindfulness or meditate yourself, you have probably heard the word mindfulness thrown around more and more in recent years. Mindfulness has entered all realms of our everyday life. Mindfulness is in restaurants, in diets, and in our food. Mindfulness is in yoga and meditation studios. Mindfulness is at workplaces and in schools. Mindfulness is on television and on the radio. Mindfulness seems to surround us wherever we go. But is mindfulness truly integrated in our daily lives?
There are many definitions of mindfulness in research, books, and popular culture. However, in its essence, mindfulness is a state of being aware and attentive to the experiences of the present moment, in a way that is focused, non-judgmental, non-reactive, and intentional. Put simpler, mindfulness is the practice of staying in the present moment on purpose. Mindfulness is often confused with meditation, which is simply one way of practicing mindfulness. Formal meditation is, in fact, a very important step in creating mindful awareness, but it is not the only step. It is equally important to take our mindfulness practice from the meditation cushion into the real world. So this blog post is dedicated to a few tips that can help you introduce mindfulness into your daily routine on and off the meditation cushion.
1. Upon waking.
Try to start every morning with a smile. As soon as you wake up, even before you leave your bed, smile and be grateful for being alive. Once you get out of bed, take some time each morning to meditate and do some light movement, like stretching or yoga. Check in with yourself, your sensations, your thoughts, and your emotions. Keep checking in with yourself through the day.
2. Eating breakfast.
Dedicate some time each morning to a nice breakfast, eaten mindfully, slowly, and with no distractions. Try to enjoy your food and not do anything else at the same time. Try not to eat on the go. Practice mindful eating during each meal, by focusing on your food and paying attention to its taste, smell and texture as you eat it.
3. Going to work.
Perhaps you can take a mindful walk part of the way. Perhaps you can engage in some light meditation on the train or on the bus. Perhaps you can practice mindful driving, by remaining patient, focused, and aware. Perhaps you can leave the house a little bit earlier to avoid the morning rush. Whatever you do, try to start your day in a mindful and stress-free way.
4. While working.
While multitasking is often an important component of many work places, try to focus on just one thing at a time whenever you can. Set aside some time each hour or two to check your emails and don’t leave your inbox open all the time. Remove other distractions, such as your phone, or wear noise-cancelling headphones to avoid being disturbed by others. Most importantly, take short breaks throughout the day. Whether it is a one-minute break or a five-minute break, try to pause, reflect on what you have already accomplished, stretch, walk around, and bring your mind back to the present.
5. Eating lunch.
Take time to enjoy your lunch, step away from your desk, take a short walk during your lunch break, and try to switch off from work for a while. It is important to separate your personal time from your work time even while you are at work.
6. Leaving work.
Finish on time if you have set hours, or when you notice that your mind and body is telling you to finish if you set your own hours. Repeat the mindful commute you did that morning. And try to let go of your work and everything that still needs to be done. Whatever job you do, it is important to aim for a work-life balance.
7. Eating dinner.
If you are too tired to cook, order in. If you are bored of cooking, try a new recipe. Try not to skip meals. It is equally important to nourish your body, as it is to nourish your mind. And when you are eating, eat mindfully, put away your phone, and enjoy.
8. Before sleeping.
Add a short informal (or formal) meditation to your bedtime routine. Take a moment before bed to reflect on the day that has been. Be grateful for that day. And finally, try to remove all screens at least one hour before sleeping to truly relax and switch off. Read a book, listen to some music, take a bath, or simply spend time with your loved ones or with yourself.
We are all different in what we do and how we spend our days. You might already be doing some of the things listed above, or you may be doing all of them. You may even have other things you do to improve your mental and physical health, such as a hobby, exercise, or different forms of meditation. In which case, great for you! However different our lives look, it is important to find small ways throughout our days to practice mindfulness. Only by remaining present in every moment, can we truly be alive each and every day.