Have you ever left work at the end of the day and wondered just what you spent your day doing? That’s because you were distracted: thinking about tomorrow or yesterday or what you’re going to do tonight. You weren’t in the moment so the moment literally passed you by.
One mundane moment passing is not all that big of a deal. But when we learn to live our entire lives this way, we become disassociated from ourselves.
Living with our heads constantly in the clouds is just another way to check out of our own life. It’s damaging to our physical health. (We get stressed out thinking about the big picture instead of on what we can actually do right now.) It’s damaging to our relationships. (We ignore the person in front of us while having a lively text conversation with someone else.) And it’s damaging to our mental health. (We feel increasingly isolated, especially as we compare our lives to the glossy world of Facebook.)
Practicing mindfulness is the way to combat the problem. Mindfulness is all about focusing on the present moment. Mindfulness helps you to stop future tripping or catastrophizing and instead puts the focus on living your actual life.
It’s about slowing down and being in the moment. Noticing what’s happening right now, how your body feels, as it actually happens. Not thinking about what you’re doing next or what you were doing an hour ago.
Mindfulness only requires two basic components: focus and awareness.
Focus – the ability to concentrate on whatever you’re currently doing
Awareness – the ability to recognize distractions as they come up and release them.
You can easily bring both of these things to every single activities during your daily life — even the most mundane ones! In fact I’d argue it’s the magic of these mundane moments that can teach us how to really be free.
So with that in mind, here are 8 suggestions of how to bring some mindfulness to your every day:
How To Practice Mindfulness Doing Anything
Mindfulness While Doing Anything Tip #1:
Resist the temptation to dive directly into your Facebook feed. Instead, take a few minutes to just be. Notice how you’re feeling today: mentally and physically. Stretch and take a few deep breaths while you ready yourself for your day rather than constantly checking out the latest “news”.
Mindfulness While Doing Anything Tip #2:
Ever make a cup of tea then wait for it to cool down and only remember it once it’s totally lukewarm? Yeah me too! Mindfulness training will help stop that from happening. And in the mean time, it’s time to sit down and notice the act of drinking tea.
Try It: Hold the cup in your hands. Notice how it feels. Take a few deep breaths. Smell the tea before you slowly sip it. Don’t do anything else for a moment but concentrate on the act of drinking tea.
Mindfulness While Doing Anything Tip #3:
Brushing Your Teeth
I’m a guilty-as-charged teeth brushing multi-tasker. But even this act can be turned into a mindful moment.
Try It: Slowly apply the toothpaste to your brush. Focus on the sensations of the brush. Notice how the toothpaste tastes. Breath deeply. After you rinse your mouth, notice the clean sensation of your teeth.
Mindfulness While Doing Anything Tip #4:
Doing The Dishes
Of course, I would not exactly say I enjoy doing dishes! But there is definitely something meditative to be found in this most mundane of all tasks. (I think this happens naturally because you are often facing a wall or window instead of a TV screen. Plus the presence of water means you can’t do this and scroll through Facebook at the same time!)
Try It: Slow down and notice the different sensations as you go. Feel the warmth of the water. Notice the smell of the dish soap and the feeling of the water on your hands.
Mindfulness While Doing Anything Tip #5:
Again, I’m horribly guilty of multi-tasking during a meal. Whether it’s scrolling Instagram, working or watching TV, I’ve definitely done it.
But focusing on the act of eating makes your meal more enjoyable. And as an added bonus, when you slow down to eat your food you’ll end up eating less.
Try It: To do it, simply focus on eating your meal: no book, no phone, not distractions. For added points, use real plates and glasses (or the fancy stuff if you have it!).
Mindfulness While Doing Anything Tip #6:
We’ve all had that uncomfortable sensation that the person we’re talking to is not really listening to us. While we can’t prevent that from ever happening to us, we can practice active listening to ensure that we’re never that person! The wonderful side-effect of this practice is that it will help create a sense of trust and respect in your relationships.
Try It: So practice listening fully in your daily conversations instead of constantly thinking about what you’re going to say next. You might occupy less of the conversation than normal but the person you’re talking to will feel deeply understood (and that’s a sacred gift).
Mindfulness While Doing Anything Tip #7:
We’ve all had that experience of pulling up in our own driveway only to realize we don’t remember driving the last few blocks. When you’re really good at a task (like driving) it’s easy to get into autopilot mode and start thinking about your grocery list or what workout you’re going to do tomorrow.
Try It: Try bringing focus back to the task at hand. Notice your hands as they perform each task. Listen to the sounds beyond the radio: the hum of the car, the sound of the turn signal, the sounds from outside. Notice the car in front of you: the color, make and license plate. Look around you at each intersection.
Mindfulness While Doing Anything Tip #8:
Waiting In Line
Whether you’re in a hurry or not, waiting in line is frequently an infuriating experience. (Especially here in Germany! Hoo boy let me tell you.) So these days I try to look upon the experience as a forced time to settle in and focus on my breathing.
Try It: Again, sink into the experience. Notice the sounds, look at the people. And if this one is difficult to do without becoming aggravated, try using a mantra as a form of moving meditation. (It really works!)
I hope these tips help to bring a bit more mindfulness to your every day! Practicing mindfulness is just another way you can learn to really love and accept yourself.