Practical Ways to Bring Mindfulness Into Your Life
Mindfulness practice is a way of learning to relate directly to whatever is happening in one's life and can increase the ability to cope with life's difficult times that include the challenges of stress, pain and illness, as well as everyday demands.
A major foundation of this practice is looking at how we perceive what is happening in our lives and how we react to it. Our reactions to whatever is happening in our lives can be a major source of stress for many of us.
Mindfulness is an effective, practical way to cultivate physical and mental relaxation that can help you cope with stressful times. The practice is to gently return the attention to the breath, the body, the sounds, and the qualities of THIS moment and the wonders of our world. We use ordinary experience such as our breath as a refuge, a safe harbor to come back to. This capacity to be present over time becomes a great friend and allows us to see our life as it is in a deeply connected way and we learn how to live with greater wisdom, compassion and ease.
Practical Mindfulness Tips
Here are some practical ways to bring mindfulness into your daily life:
- Try eating somewhat slower than usual. As an experiment, you might try intentionally eating one meal a week in silence with your family just to experience the eating itself. Also, you might consider not reading or watching TV during meals. This will help you become more sensitive to how you eat and bring increased awareness to your eating with others.
- Notice how much the mind dwells in memories of the past or anticipation of the future. Is this necessary? Do you suffer for it? The past and the future are places to visit for learning and planning, but a lot of us LIVE in the past and/or the future.
- While driving, switch off the radio and experience the silence. It might seem at first as if something is missing, but you'll quickly learn that the silence gives you an opportunity to fill your awareness with other perceptions, some of which are enriching. It can leave you quieter, calmer, and more focused.
- On your way to work, when stopped at a red light, pay attention to your breathing, the sky and the trees... noticing what is around you...noticing where your mind is at...the past, the future?
- In the workplace, use your breaks to truly relax rather than simply "pausing." For instance, instead of having coffee or reading, try taking a short walk.
- Use everyday cues in your environment as reminders to "center" yourself (e.g., the telephone ringing or certain sounds emitted by your computer). Allow these cues to signal that it's time to take a moment to pause and take a few breaths and becoming aware of bodily sensations. This allows the mind to settle and regroup.
- At the end of the work day, pay attention to the walk to your car, breathing in the crisp or warm air. Listen to the sounds around you. Can you walk without feeling rushed?
- When you arrive home from work, say hello to each of your family members or to the people you live with. Look into their eyes. If possible, make the time to take 5-10 minutes to be quiet and still. If you live alone, feel what it is like to enter the quietness of your home and the feeling of entering your own environment.