Mindfulness takes practice, but derailing your day’s schedule is unnecessary. Follow these five simple ways to boost mindfulness, doing what you were planning to do anyway.
- Do a mindless, everyday activity with awareness.
Pick an activity that you would normally do on autopilot — driving to work, making a smoothie, dressing yourself — and instead of going through the motions, pay attention to your senses. What do you smell, hear, feel, taste? Experience every moment.
Initially, you may need to recite what you’re doing and what you’re feeling to stay on track, but ultimately, you’ll do the activity without mental chatter.
Be sure not to overthink it, though. Just do and be. Allow any thoughts and feelings to come and go naturally.
- Create cues that remind you to “wake up.”
Leave yourself post-its on the mirror. Or choose a scenario that you’re sure to face throughout your day, like sitting at a red light, turning on the faucet or hearing a bird sing. These are your cues to stop, breathe and feel your bodily sensations.
The idea is to prompt yourself to be mindful throughout the day; the moments of practice add up.
I have a patient whose mindfulness cue is a crushing sense of rushing and panic that she won’t get everything done. Once she realizes she’s in “panic mode,” she shuts out thoughts about the future and tunes into her current state of mind. Ironically, being mindful doesn’t mean she starts going slower, although she feels less rushed.
- Take it to the mat — the yoga mat, that is.
Yoga may not be on your to-do list, but exercise probably is and yoga is so great for boosting mindfulness.
Yoga teaches deep breathing techniques and helps you hone the ability to endure pain — things you can use to boost your mindfulness later. Depending on the type of yoga, you can also improve strength, balance, and circulation. (Yes, you will get a workout!)
Not sure what type of yoga is right for you? Ask your local studio for advice.
- Don’t procrastinate that difficult task.
Stretching your brains’ and bodies’ abilities is one way to boost mindfulness. When a task is difficult — like lifting heavier-than-normal weights or writing about a complex, foreign topic — we automatically place all mental attention on the task.
The key here: don’t let anxiety related to the challenge bring you out of being present to every moment. Stay with the whole experience, including any uncomfortable feelings. Don’t fixate on your feelings but do make note of your sensations by saying to yourself, “Oh, there’s anxiety.”
- Fill in the gaps with meditation.
You were going to be sitting on the plane anyway. Or waiting in the doctor’s lobby. Or taking a quick work break. Why not spend that time meditating? All it takes is 10 minutes/day to benefit.
Not sure how to meditate? There’s an app for that! Try Headspace. It’s a super easy-to-use program that offers guided meditations that last only 10 minutes (or longer, if you like). It’s perfect for beginners and people who need to be held accountable.
BONUS: Were you looking for a professional development course or workshop? Choose one that’s based on meditation. It may be the one thing your business practice is missing! Plus, it’s hard to skip if you’ve scheduled the commitment and paid for it in advance.
To your emotional health,