7 Ways to Integrate Mindfulness in 2015
Mindfulness is a concept that has been around for centuries, but has gained popularity in western cultures over the last few decades. It’s a powerful practice that has proven to change lives and help to step out of the past or the future, and step into the present.
What is mindfulness?
In order to examine mindfulness, it’s best to first look at what it means to be mindless. Mindlessness is ingrained in our culture and is promoted by our chaotic schedules and unprecedented expectations. Have you ever realized after you came home from work that you don’t remember the majority of the drive home? Have you ever gotten so caught up in your thoughts that you didn’t realize that 20 minutes had passed and you’re late for your next obligation? If so, then like many people, you’ve experienced mindlessness. It’s easy to get so caught up in what you are feeling or thinking and forget that there is a valuable, fleeting present moment.
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully aware of what’s happening in the moment without judgment. It’s regaining a connection with our bodies and minds in a nonjudgmental way. Everyone has the ability to be mindful: we all have the skills within us and all it takes is some practice and intention. Mindfulness has been proven to be effective for a myriad of ailments including, but not limited to: anxiety, depression, chronic pain, low self-esteem, and addictions.
Here are 7 simple ways to incorporate mindfulness into your life in 2015:
1) Take 5 deep breaths.
This may sound simple, but deep breathing can often slow the heart rate and help you return to the present moment. It can also help you to quickly become aware of your breath. Notice the weight or your chest, the temperature of the air that you are breathing in, and the muscles of your diaphragm as they expand and contract with each breath.
2) Practice being non-judgmental of your thoughts and emotions by treating them as passing clouds in the sky.
Simply noticing thoughts and not becoming over identified with any given thought or emotion allows us to maintain a sense of clarity and peace, knowing that whatever thought or emotion is present will pass in due time.
3) Pay more attention to your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Often times we don’t have time to become aware of feelings until they are out of control. For example, instead of noticing anxiety in the moment, often it gets ignored until a full on panic attack takes over. Noticing your emotions in the moment gives you the opportunity to be compassionate with yourself and take care of your needs. Remember, we cannot ignore our pain and feel compassion for it at the same time.
4) Eat a meal in silence.
Turn off the TV, put your phone away, and minimize distractions as much as possible. Focus on how your food tastes, feels, and the nutrition it is providing your body. Not only will you reap the benefits of mindful eating, this practice will also help you to feel fuller and more satisfied.
5) Wash your hands with intention.
Instead of quickly throwing soap on your hands and rushing off to your next task, take a moment while doing this mundane task to enjoy the moment: focus on the smell of the soap, the temperature of the water, the sensation of the lather of the soap, and the feel of your skin.
6) Get in touch with all 5 senses.
Take the next few seconds to notice 3 things that you can smell, hear, feel, taste, and see. It’s a mindful version of “I Spy” that can help you to bring mindfulness into everyday moments.
7) Remember to not be hard on yourself about being mindful.
Each moment is a new opportunity to bring mindfulness into your life. As soon as you realize that you’re not aware of the present moment, you become aware!