You may have seen mindfulness on the front of Time Magazine, heard about it being used by staff at Google, or had it recommended to you by your health professional. But mindfulness is more than just a passing fad. And learning to incorporate mindfulness activities into your daily life can help you bring more balance and self-awareness into your routine.
So, how do you turn mindfulness into a habit?
Here’s what mindfulness is and how you can practice the following four mindfulness activities in your daily life:
What Is Mindfulness?
The basis of mindfulness comes from none other than the Buddha himself, around 2500 years ago.
Mindfulness is both a set of techniques and way of living that makes you more focused, calm and creative.
The approach includes not only meditation, but also offers a way of paying attention to your everyday activities, making yourself more centered, grounded and balanced.
Why do we need mindfulness?
We all overreact to the demands of our lives when stretched to our limits.
Our world collapses in on itself and we lose empathy for others who are struggling when stress has us in its grip.
Fortunately, we need not lose hope that things can get better.
If you practice, mindfulness can slowly and steadily soothe your mind and heart, positively nourishing all parts of your life.
It acts as a gentle rain soaking into a land of drought. The rain is mindfulness. The drought is the constant doing of modern living.
4 Everyday Mindfulness Activities
So, how do we incorporate more mindfulness into our lives?
Here are four simple mindfulness activities that you can practice on a regular basis for more daily zen:
1. Mindful eating
Take a small piece of fruit and take about five minutes to savor it. Pause to consider each of your bodily senses. What do you see? Smell? Feel? Taste?
Cultivate a beginner’s mind. Imagine that you’ve never seen that piece of fruit before. Be curious and attentive.
Notice the fruit’s color and texture, take time to enjoy the scent, close your eyes to become aware of what it feels like to hold this small piece of food in your hand.
Rejoice in the wild range of flavors as you slowly chew and eventually swallow. This process gives you a great introductory experience of what mindfulness is about.
2. Mindful body scan meditation
Lie down on your back with your arms and legs stretched out. Take anywhere from five to 20 minutes going through the sensations in your entire body, from the tips of your toes to the top of your head.
Your mind will wander off to all sorts of thoughts – likely hundreds of times. Each time you notice that your mind has wandered, acknowledge it, and bring your kind attention back to whatever body part you were focusing on.
Be as patient with yourself as you can. Enjoy the experience – don’t rush it.
3. Mindful walking
The next time you take a walk, try this exercise: just focus on the process of walking and breathing.
So, take off your headphones, set aside your mental to-do list, and just walk.
Notice the feeling in your feet as you take each step. Bring a sense of inquisitiveness.
Which part of your foot touches the ground first?
How fast are you breathing?
Do you breathe from your nose or mouth as you walk?
Are your shoulders or jaw tense as you move?
Just being aware of this bodily experiences cultivates greater mindfulness and can be a welcome change to the constant rushing of our lives.
4. Mindful breathing
Simply take a few minutes everyday to feel the physical sensation of your own breathing with a sense of affection and warmth.
Each time your mind wanders off, gently and kindly bring your attention back to the breath. Sounds overly simple, but this can be tremendously soothing with practice.
The more you can feel your breath with kindness, the more you’ll enjoy the process and the less your mind will jump about. And you can do the exercise anywhere, so it’s even more portable than your phone – you can’t leave your breath at work when you’re going home!
Are you willing to try any of the above exercises? Let us know your thoughts below.