From the moment you wished to be more mindful, you asked yourself: “How can I increase my mindfulness daily?”. While retreats and sitted meditations are good ways to increase our mindfulness, they are expensive in terms of time and money. Here are some tricks that will easily help you be more mindful on a daily basis.
Unless you have handicaps that hinder your walk, walking is really an activity that we do a lot... daily. When you get out of your office chair to go talk to a coworker...you walk. When you go to your car and try to remove the ice on your windshield...you walk. When you’re chasing after your 5 year old grandson who has way more energy than you do... you walk. Walking is a big part of our life, and of course I am not talking here about straight walking but instead more about moving around. Every time we move, there is an opportunity to practice mindfulness. You have to go get your groceries, you might as well practice during that time. Every time you take a step, focus on the pressure of each foot on the ground...and when your mind wanders, go back to the sensations in your feet and legs. As long as you try to focus on the sensations related to walking, your practicing mindfulness.
Conversations are another enormous part of our day, and are a beautiful and helpful way to practice as well. Whenever someone talks to you, try to be as attentive to what they are saying as possible, and every time you find yourself thinking of ways to reply, or being distracted by something else...just remember to go back to listening. Not only will this exercise increase your daily mindfulness, but it will also help out your relationships, because usually the people who talk to us really only wish for us to understand them and listen to them with our undivided attention.
While I find this practice to be one of the most difficult to practice, it also comes with the most benefits. While mindfully eating, we pay attention to the smells and tastes overflowing in our mouth as we’re eating. The trick here is to eat more slowly, and eat in silence...where there is more opportunity for you to focus only on the food and not get lost in thoughts. This particular practice can be done multiple times per day, we all have time reserved for it, and it affects our body an awful lot. As you become more mindful of your eating and hunger, you also become more aware of any bad habits you have regarding eating...such as eating fast food, eating too much, eating too fast, eating something too hot or cold, having unbalanced meals...it really helps us be aware of so many bad eating habits that most of us have, and that impact our bodies tremendously.
Yes, I’m sure that you’ve heard before of breathing meditation where people sit and focus on their breath while staying still for 10 to 30 minutes at a time...but this is not what I have in mind. I am only talking about breathing, without any restrictions to our activity at hand. When your walking, playing tennis, watching a movie, paying your taxes, reading this article...you’re breathing at the same time. Because our breath is always with us it is one of the best easy ways to practice mindfulness. Just be conscious of one full breath once in awhile, it doesn’t mean you have to stop whatever you were doing but just that you try to be more conscious of how your breath is and feels now and then.
Finally, this is where I personally focus a lot of my practice on...and this section may contain some of the other tips mentioned above. Whenever you are doing chores, use it to practice mindfulness. That activity that you hate will become an opportunity for you to do something that is good for you, help you love more boring activities and brighten your overall daily experience of life. When you're washing the dishes, instead of letting you mind explore fantasies, try to focus on the movements of your arms and hands, or the feeling of hot and cold water on your skin as your rinse those plates. When you’re folding the laundry, why not pay attention to the colors of the fabrics, and the smell of those fresh clothes. As long as you try to be here and not lost in your thoughts, you’ll always enjoy more this time of your life...this time when you were present for life, learning new things from it...discovering it.
While it is true that mindfulness can be practiced anytime, having some more strict and regular practice is still extremely beneficial and important for progress to happen. Come join our meditation group for weekly sessions of guided meditations with me, or take our mindfulness workshop to increase your knowledge of what mindfulness is, as well as practice it during that time.
20 November 2017