How to integrate mindfulness in your daily life

Whether you are new to mindfulness or practicing for a while, integrating mindfulness into your life can be a challenge. Especially if you are already busy with work or running a family.

What does it mean to be mindful? Essentially, mindfulness means to be present, and in the moment. It is important that we remind ourselves of this simple fact. All too often we can lose the true essence of mindfulness by over-complicating things or putting all our emphasis on the act of meditation alone. Mindfulness is not something we leave at the meditation pillow, yoga mat or chair, but something we can carry through our everyday lives. So why not apply some mindfulness to everyday activities, such as brushing our teeth, catching up with an old friend, or even waiting in line at the post office? All these moments present an opportunity for us to apply mindfulness, and live our lives more fully, in the present moment.

Here I will provide you with some tips to integrate mindfulness in everyday life without it being a chore.

1. Start your day mindfully: practice right when you wake up.

“Mindfulness practice first thing in the morning helps set the ‘tone’ of your nervous system for the rest of the day, increasing the likelihood of other mindful moments.”

After waking up go sit on your meditations pillow, yoga mat or chair, or choose to stay in bed for a couple of breaths. Take a moment to feel yourself sitting or lying in your bed, notice yourself breathing and take the time to track your breath going down from your nose all the way to your belly and going up again from your belly and out through your nose. Follow your breath for about a minute, or more if you feel like it. Now you’re ready to start your day mindfully 🙂

2. Practice mindfulness during routine activities.

Try bringing awareness to the daily activities you usually do on autopilot.

For instance, pay more attention as you’re brushing your teeth, taking a shower, eating breakfast or walking to work.

Mindfully taking a shower: You become aware of how good the warm water feels as it washes over your skin.  Being mindful of the smell of the shower gel, and the sensation your hands passing over your skin; being mindful to set the temperature before you step in the shower; mindful of thoughts cropping up; mindful of how much water you’re using; and mindful of the noise of the water coming to a halt.

Mindfully brushing your teeth: Becoming mindful of the taste and texture of the toothpaste; mindful of the sensation of your feet on the bathroom floor; mindful of the way that your arm moves to direct the brush across your teeth; mindful of each and every tooth.

4. Keep it short. Our brains respond better to bursts of mindfulness. Being mindful several times a day is more helpful than a lengthy session or even a weekend retreat. While 20 minutes seems to be the gold standard, starting at a few minutes a day is OK, too.

For instance, you can tune into your body, such as focusing on where your breath is at the moment or on how your feet feel in your shoes. Or practice the ‘three minute breathing space’

5 Practice mindfulness while you wait. In our fast-paced lives, waiting is a big source of frustration whether you’re waiting in line or stuck in traffic.

Being mindful in the queue: while it might seem like a nuisance, waiting is actually an opportunity for mindfulness. When you’re waiting, bringing your attention to your breath, focus on the flow of the breath in and out of your body, from moment to moment and allow everything else to just be, even if what’s there is impatience or irritation. You set off mindful and quietly prepared for what you’ll need; mindful of how your mood changes when you first catch a glimpse of the queue for the bank; mindful of how you stand, your breath and where any tensions are as you scan through your body; mindful of the tendency to distract yourself from the present moment; and mindful of how you interact with the people around you.

Being mindful on your commute: Being mindful of the people around you and recognising that they too might be feeling the same discomfort; mindful of the environment as a whole and your resistance to it; mindful of trying to fast forward to dreamt up situations, of escaping the present moment; mindful of the journey and how it feels – is the ride bumpy or is it comfortable and smooth?

6. Meditate

Find yourself a place and a time of day to meditate.

Regular practice helps training your mind being aware, being in the now and being more efficient, better integrated, less distracted and more focused. The best way to cultivate mindfulness in everyday life is to formally train in meditation. Regularity is key; it trains your mindfulness muscle.

Even if it is only for a few minutes a day, just meditate. Take a break and take care of yourself. You can do it in the morning after waking up and before going downstairs and start the day. You can do the ‘three minutes breathing space’ while being in the bathroom, before lunch, after lunch, before going to bed. Find a moment for yourself to meditate. Preferably the same moment and the same place every day.

 

Thanks to Headspace and Mindful.org

Maartje van Ewijk

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