In this article, I will explain how to insert mindfulness in your daily life.
But first, what is mindfulness and how does it work?
Mindfulness means being aware and paying attention with all your senses to the present moment and accepting it without judgment. Just accepting the moment as it is.
It sounds easier than it actually is. Do you remember the last time that you were washing the dishes and actually experiencing it with all your senses? Probably not. The point of this article is to explain in detail how to do it.
But why should you practice mindfulness?
- A simple explanation is that staying in the present moment helps you put aside negative emotions that are being created from over-analyzing.
Either that is worrying about something that may happen and making scenarios: “What will I do if this or that happens?”, or thinking about the past, regretting: “What if I had done that differently?”
The conclusion is that when you are free from unnecessary thoughts that make you feel worried and stressed, you start to change your mindset to more relaxed and happy.
- Not letting yourself get caught in your thoughts makes you gain self-control and discipline.
- Staying in the present moment also helps you accept the reality, making you deal with it instead of avoiding it.
Analyzing it more..
When not being mindful you get absorbed by your feelings and you limit your attention just on that. You are not aware of the rest of the things around you. That means that you have a more subjective point of view. If you manage to be mindful during a situation/circumstance, your awareness expands. That means that your mind takes in more information from your surroundings and as more information you provide to yourself as more objective you’re being.
Doesn’t it make sense? Think about it. When we experience a situation that brings up feelings that are strong we tend to block because our feelings are so intense that we are unable to see the situation in an overall perspective.
It’s like when you’re meditating. When you have a strong distraction that comes to your mind it draws your attention and many times you get lost into it and even forget that you’re meditating. The same thing applies to everyday life.
Mindfulness is like taking a step back and trying to see a situation from an uninvolved viewer.
Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness is a part of meditating and practicing it in daily activities will amplify the benefits of it. It will help you change your unhealthy thinking patterns, be more objective and keep you motivated towards meditation.
Mindfulness in our everyday activities
An easy way to insert mindfulness in your everyday life is to choose one activity and perform it every day being mindful. Choose something that you do daily like, drinking your tea/coffee, washing the plates, eating, exercising, taking a walk, taking the bus(not driving), taking a shower, washing your hands, just sitting on your sofa, brushing your teeth etc. Performing any kind of activity.
The important thing when you practice mindfulness is to do one thing at a time. Just drinking coffee for example. Not looking at your mobile at the same time or daydreaming.
When you get caught up in a thought just acknowledge that, and return your mind to the present moment.
Below I will give you some examples.
Note: Don’t practice mindfulness while driving or operating any kind of machinery. In these cases, you have to follow the rules and regulations that are proper for each situation and keep your attention where needed for your safety.
How to practice mindfulness while,
Observe your breath. Is it deep or shallow? If it’s shallow try to remember what you were doing or thinking at that very moment (before being mindful) without judging the reason, just observing it.
Then you can continue observing your breath; your belly or chest as they expand in the inhalation and compress in the exhalation, the sensation of the air in your nose or any other sensation related to the breath.
The breath is something that you should be aware of no matter what you’re doing. It’s something that is always there and it’s always in your present moment. So be aware of your breathing if you’re just sitting on your sofa or if you’re walking, brushing your teeth, taking a shower or eating.
Walking while daydreaming,planning the dinner or talking on the phone can not only be stressful, and distracting but dangerous as well. If it has not happened to you personally, you have for sure somehow witnessed somebody crossing the street being totally abstracted by one’s thoughts.
Keep all your sensations wide open. Notice the sounds, smells and everything around you. Be aware of your surroundings; other people, animals, cars.
Observe you body movements and which muscles you use when walking. Notice if you have any tension in your body and release it.
Observe the feeling of the ground under your feet.
Feel the breeze or the sun on your skin.
Don’t judge anything. Just observe and be aware of all the sensations.
Taking a shower
Observe how the water feels on your skin, what sensations does it bring up(warmth, relaxation, relief). Notice the smells, the sensation of scrubbing your hair and your skin, the sound that the water makes, the movements of your arms and hands. Observe your mind and if there are any thoughts there. If you get caught up in one, just return your mind to the present moment.
Brushing your teeth
Many of us tend to walk around the house or watch TV, while brushing our teeth. We are bored to stand on a spot ….just brushing our teeth.
Instead, you should direct your attention on how the toothpaste feels in your mouth, which movements you are doing with your hand, how the toothbrush feels on your teeth and on your gums and be mindful of every tooth you’re brushing.
Pay attention to which part of your body is relaxed while doing this activity and which not, and the feeling of your feet standing on the bathroom floor.
When we eat we usually tend to think, talk, browse, or watch television. Next time you will sit down to eat leave all these activities and just focus on your food.
Notice the smell, the taste and observe yourself as you eat. How does the food feel in your mouth? Do you chew it well before swallowing? How does it feel when you swallow it? Is it warm, cold and how does that make you feel?
Which tastes do you like and what sensations do they bring to you?
Being on means of transportation
When we take the bus or train it’s the time of thinking. Putting on music on our headphones, looking out of the window and daydreaming.
Many times when taking the bus with my headphones in my ears, I came to realize that I didn’t notice that it came a person and sat beside me. After 5 or 10 minutes I looked at my side and said to myself: How is it possible that I didn’t notice when this person came?
So pay attention to the sensation of the seat. The ride, does it have bumps? Do you have to resist when the driver is taking a turn? How about the sounds around you? The sound of the vehicle, the people. Is there any particular smell in the bus?
Standing in a queue, waiting for the bus…or just standing
When we stand and are just waiting for something we tend to look for things to occupy our mind.
Sometimes I actually find it a very good opportunity to take advantage of the time by checking my mails.
Although I can take advantage doing something at this time I can also take advantage of the time doing nothing. Just relaxing and being.
These moments, can really influence your whole day for the better, even if they just last for 2 minutes.
Start to observe your posture, your breathing, the sensation of the air on your skin, the sounds and the smells around you.
The point of being mindful in your everyday activities is not to always being in the present moment no matter what, and to vanish any other thought from your mind except exclusively thinking what happens in the present.
There are thoughts that are not regarding the present that are essential. Like planning how to perform something in the future. To plan and prepare something that is going to happen in the future is essential for our everyday to flow. Like setting our intention and making a “plan” towards it.
The point is to understand which are the unnecessary thoughts and when a plan turns to an obsession or a vivid scenario never ending.
Another point that I want to mention is a moment of inspiration is very likely to come when having a relaxed mindset. That means that many good ideas and plans can come to our mind when practicing mindfulness.
This happens to me while meditating. What you can do, is to make a note of your thought or idea and come back to it later.
One last point that I want to mention is the act of daydreaming. When practicing mindfulness we discourage daydreaming by keeping our attention in the present moment.
While many think that it’s not something that they need to stop doing, because it has relaxing effects on them, it’s a little bit trickier than that.
Even if daydreaming can have positive and relaxing effects, it can hurt us when we realize that our reality has nothing to do with that dream.
I don’t want my words to lead to misunderstanding. I don’t say: don’t dream.
I say: DREAM BIG! But knowing when you have to come back and knowing how to be happy in the present too, and continuously making steps towards your dream. The point of having dreams is to reach them.
Any reflections and questions are welcome below 🙂