What is mindfulness? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not staring at the wall. It’s the state of the mind when it’s being conscious or aware of something. In other words, mindfulness is a way to be present.
Presence is a powerful thing and people have reported that becoming more present has lowered their anxiety levels, caused them to make better decisions and has improved their relationships.
Being present sounds pretty good right? But it’s not always easy to achieve a present state, especially if you're dealing with excess stress and worries or you’re in a conflict with a spouse or friend.
Luckily there are ways to stay present. Being mindful is the practice of being present and the more you do it, the more easily you can just swoop into a state of presence.
The great thing about mindfulness is that you can practice it anytime you want. Some people practice it during meditation, while others may do it during their morning jog. Here are some ways you can make mindfulness part of your day and to reap the benefits that come from this powerful practice:
Did you know that your breath is a built in mindful-ometer? Checking in with your breath is a good way to re-center yourself and become present, which is the main purpose of being mindful.
In times when you feel extra anxious or overwhelmed, try being mindful with your breath and watch how you instantly relax. Instead of focusing on the fear, you’re focusing on something that cannot be changed and that will always be flowing.
Try focussing on the start of the breath, follow it as it expands your belly and rib cage, then follow it until your belly deflates slightly again. Continue this 10-12 times for ultimate zen.
Basically, as long as you can focus on your breath you’re doing pretty good in the mindfulness department.
Another way you can incorporate mindfulness into your day is during mealtimes. Before you dive into that delicious looking porcine mushroom and goat cheese panini, why not take a moment to practice mindfulness?
This is super easy, just take a breath and relax in your chair. Now, take in the smell of your food. How does it look? Is it hot or cold? Is it what you wanted to order? As you eat your food, try slowing down your chewing and taste your food and let the flavors reveal themselves to you.
By doing this you can more easily appreciate your meal by being mindful of the taste sensations, the colors and the textures. By the end of your meal you’ll be so relaxed, you’ll probably want to order dessert.
You may think that practicing mindfulness during a conversation is impossible, but it’s one of the best ways to get presence and connect with someone else.
Active listening consists of listening to the “whole story” someone is telling you as opposed to just bits and pieces or the parts you want to hear. Active listening puts you into a state of reception in a conversation and forces you to be present and fully understand as well as remember what someone is saying to you.
Listening to someone in this way, not only will make you seem super smart, but you won’t believe how much it will improve your relationships. It’s amazing what a little bit of presence can do.
It’s also pretty crazy, when you listen to someone wholeheartedly, what your conversation partner will feel comfortable in revealing. It can be a freeing, wonderful experience for both people. But also, don’t say I didn’t warn ya!
Practicing Something You Love
You know when you’re doing something you absolutely love and you just get lost in it? Whether it’s cooking, writing, reading or mixed martial arts, when you love something, your mind naturally engages fully in it.
In this state you can really zone in, block out everything that happened that morning and all the co-workers you can’t stand and you’re able to just flow. This is mindfulness at its best and can easily switch the mind to a healthy, happy state, almost in an instant!
Movement is a good way to practice mindfulness. Contemporary dancers do it all the time in their classes as well as yogis when they practice yoga. It’s simply the difference of moving for the sake of moving and conscious movement.
The next time you’re walking, pay attention to your surroundings, take each step and feel your feet gently touch the ground, if you’re outside, feel the sun on your face. Notice how your muscles support your body. If you’re jogging, observe how your breath flows in and out of your body as you increase and decrease speed.
The simple act of becoming aware of these things will allow you to relax more and become more at ease in your body.
As you can see, practicing mindfulness is almost easy as walking, talking and eating! Things you do everyday anyways. By adding just a little bit of awareness to these activities you will experience the incredible benefits of presence and mindfulness.
How can you incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine? Check out our Daily Rituals download in the Printable library below.