Change your outlook – Mindfulness as a gift, not a chore

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Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. It’s about knowing what is on your mind.
— John Kabat-Zinn

Many people ask me how they can incorporate a small mindfulness practice into a busy life. We are all on the hamster wheel of life, but creating time for this type of practice is invaluable. With this in mind, I want to share 10 easy practices that will help you be more mindful in your daily life.

Mindfulness is really about bringing our attention to the experience that is occurring in the present moment. This means being in the present time, not thinking about the past or the future, but in this moment only. John Kabat-Zinn, a highly-regarded individual in the mindfulness movement, says that “mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. It’s about knowing what is on your mind”.

Here are 10 simplistic methods to be more mindful in your own daily life:

  • During the course of each day, carve out time, a minute or more, to pay attention to that moment.
    • Let go of what you think you “should” do
    • Forget the to-do-list
    • Hear the birds chirping out your window
    • Tune in to this moment and what you are feeling right now
  • Another strategy to mindfulness is our focus. Sometimes we need a focal point to make us more aware or mindful in our day.
    • Pick something that speaks to you and, on a daily basis, pay attention to it
    • Example: painting in your office that brings you joy – that can be a focal point
    • Put your attention and energy on this painting and just be with it without focusing on anything else
  • Take time to breathe. Focusing on our breath is such a powerful process in mindfulness.
    • Does not have to be a very long and involved process
    • Simply a minute or two, bring all of your attention to the breath that comes in through your nostrils and goes out through your mouth
    • Thinking about your breath and your breath alone for 60 seconds can be such a powerful and grounding exercise
  • Take notice of the world around you. Sit or stand wherever you are and just notice the world around you.
    • Take in your surroundings as if it were the first time that you were seeing it
    • Pay attention to what you feel, see, hear and perhaps smell
  • Bring a simple gratitude practice into your day. This practice is helpful for our health and wellbeing.
    • A gratitude practice can be just in a thought or a gratitude journal or a gratitude jar, keeping track of all the things that you are feeling gratitude for in life
    • There are so many ways to build this practice into your life with simplicity.
  • Of course, meditation is a huge practice in being more mindful in our daily life. Meditation has proved to lower our stress and help with our overall well-being.
    • As simple as tuning into an app called “Simply Being” or downloading your own favorite meditation video, whatever feels right for you
    • Meditation does not have to be done in any specific format
    • It is important that it feels right to the meditator
    • For example, some people lay down, some people sit with their legs crossed, some close their eyes, or pick a focal point and zone in on that.
  • Awareness is a key factor in the art of mindfulness. Reflect on when you are or are not in a state of awareness and presence.
    • Reflect on what actually struck you as a mindful time in your day and what that looked like and felt like for you
    • Bring attention to when we are at our best in these practices can help us to carve out more time like this in our day
  • Tune in to yourself and tune out of all else. This means shutting off your electronics for a period of time, which could be 5 minutes. – Tuning into your inner compass, the beating of your heart in your own mindful practice and at the same time,
    • Tune out the noise coming from all areas of life (news apps, text messages, emails, work calls, etc.)
    • Reconnect with yourself and only yourself for a time each day, without distractions
    • This can help you become one with your breath and your heart
  • It is important that we celebrate ourselves. No matter how big or small the achievement is, we are always so quick to celebrate others, but it is important that we look in the mirror and give praise to ourselves.
    • Reflect on and notice all of your accomplishments
    • Do something for yourself that celebrates those accomplishments
    • Be proud of yourself
  • Mindfulness practice is a work in progress. Allow the frustrations to come and go, but don’t get caught up in them. Practicing mindfulness is a constant learning experience that requires patience, change, and adaptability.
    • Reflect on your experience
    • Celebrate that you are working on it, rather than getting caught up in what you could do better or differently

While these are just a few options that you could try in adding mindfulness into your daily life, it sure isn’t limited to this list. If you’re looking to be more mindful, I recommend starting with this list and seeing what works for you. As I mentioned, each person’s practice is a work in progress. However, no matter what practice you choose, you will reap its benefits.

Practicing mindfulness has been empirically proven to reduce rumination, reduce stress, improve the working memory, improved focus, less emotional reactivity, more cognitive flexibility, relationship satisfaction, and many other benefits (Davis, 2012). You could be enjoying these benefits with just a few minutes of mindfulness per day.

Try out some of the 10 simplistic methods to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life. Does one method work better than others for you?

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