Mindfulness is an amazing tool to help us enjoy the present moment more, and stop worrying about the past or the future.
But while it might sound like a good idea, mindfulness shouldn’t become another thing you have to do or something else to try. Let me tell you, you are already doing it. We’re all practicing mindfulness already when we notice the birds or get into the flow of colouring in with our kids.
‘I need to do my mindfulness’ should absolutely not be a thought that enters our already overcrowded and overwhelmed heads. And we absolutely shouldn’t feel guilty if we can’t dedicate an hour to practicing mindfulness or mediation when we already have so much to. This just adds to the stress and is completely NOT the point of mindfulness.
There are some easy ways to incorporate mindfulness into your every day life so it becomes part of your daily routine. You get all the benefits without any of the pressure – win win.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the art and practice of being truly present in the moment. It’s being aware of all that is currently happening without making any effort to change it.
When we can be fully mindful we are totally in the moment and our minds do not wander to the past or future. Being fully present helps us stop overthinking about the past of the future, and allows us to fully soak up and appreciate the present moment. When we are more mindful, we are less preoccupied with worrying or overthinking. We simply ARE in the moment.
Now is really the only thing that really exists – to quote a slightly cheesy line – yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that’s why they call it the present.
Practicing mindfulness is not always easy. Our minds always want to take us to tomorrow or yesterday but life is actually happening in the moment. It can be hard to be still and present, but this stillness can be so powerful. Mindfulness can help reduce stress, anxiety and depression, and improve our wellbeing by allowing us to appreciate things more.
Easy everyday ways to practice mindfulness
Multitasking is the enemy of mindfulness. Multitasking is often sold as a really good thing, we have all probably said in job interviews that we’re really good at it. But when you do more than one thing at once, it’s really hard to do either thing properly.
I get so stressed out when I try to do two things at once. I usually do this when I am feeling busy and like I don’t have enough time. But doing this means I rarely do either thing properly and subsequently feel more stressed and like I have even less time, so the cycle repeats.
We are so switched on all the time now so it’s really hard to unplug. Try to focus fully on one thing at a time. I know this is so tricky when you are trying to juggle more than one thing, but maybe try it for just a few minutes a day. It can be really useful to use a timer, maybe 10 minutes of focused work, then 10 minutes of playing with your kids for example.
Give something your full attention
Once we’ve stopped trying to do everything at once, it becomes much easier to give one thing our full attention. We can snap out of auto-pilot and begin to try and become really present with whatever we are doing. Mundane activities like washing up, gardening, having a shower or hoovering can all become mediative if we fully immerse ourselves in the act of what we are doing.
Try to do one thing with your full attention every day. This may sound boring, but once you begin you will start to notice layers of the experience. For example is you are washing up you could ask yourself how hot is the water? What does the sponge feel like in my hand? How heavy is the plate? What noises do the dishes and bubbles make in the sink?
Start a daily ritual
While being mindful with your daily chores is okay, being mindful with something you enjoy is really great. By being fully present and aware of what is going on you can turn a daily micro-joy in to a real pleasure. Your morning cup of tea can become a delight if you give it your fully attention. Can you notice the process of boiling the kettle, of making the drink, of sitting down, of really, fully tasting it?
Using our senses can help us getting fully immersed in an experience. Think about what you can see, what you can hear, what you can smell, what you can taste and what you can feel. It’s amazing what we miss, and miss out on when we aren’t paying attention.
Get in the flow
Flow state is used to describe the way we feel when we are fully absorbed in something. It’s sometimes said that this is when we are at our happiest because we are completely and utterly present and it’s almost like we enter a state of no thoughts about the past or future.
Think about times you might have got so wrapped in a project, task or activity and how you felt. Some great ways to get there are to exercise (it’s not called flow yoga for nothing) or a creative project – baking, crafting, knitting, colouring in or painting are all great ways to get in the flow.
Use your breath as an anchor
In yoga we often talk about the breath as a way to anchor ourselves in the present. The breath is such a powerful tool for mindfulness because it is not possible to breath in the past or in the future. You can only breath RIGHT NOW. So if you can focus your attention on your breathing you can help yourself stay focused on life as it is happening in the moment.
Try this simple mindful breathing exercise. Close your eyes and notice your breath. How does it feel? Is it fast or slow? Is it deep or shallow? Can you hear it? Where can you feel it in your body? Is every breath the same or do some feel different? Don’t try and judge or control your breathing just watch and notice it and what’s going on.
Mindfulness is an incredible tool. The more we practice it, the better able we are at coming back to this state naturally. Try some of these easy ways to find a mindful moment whenever you can without felling pressured to make time.