How To Practice Mindfulness
It's an incredibly busy world. And with most of us stuck at home nearly 24/7 because of the current pandemic situation, things have only become more hectic. You wash the dishes while keeping one eye on the kids and another on the clock–mentally rehearsing the speech you need to give in an upcoming Zoom meeting. Then, in the blink of an eye, it's 11 pm. It's only now that you realize you can't even remember what you did all day. You're literally missing out on most of your life, which can leave you feeling shallow, empty, and deeply unsettled.
What can you do to gain a greater sense of presence? I.e. Play the main character in your life, instead of merely watching from the sidelines? Well, two words: practice mindfulness. And this article explores just how you can do that in your daily life without meditating.
What is mindfulness?
To put it simply, mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly overwhelmed or reactive by what’s going on around us. Note the keywords: ‘basic human ability.’ That said, mindfulness is like a muscle; the more you use it, the more it’ll strengthen. And the more it’ll become readily available to you on a daily basis.
How to practice mindfulness?
Truth is, whenever you bring awareness to what you're experiencing via your senses or to your state of mind (your thoughts and emotions), you're being mindful. Thus–suggesting that there are actually many ways of practising mindfulness without meditating, including:
- Stay present through menial chores – Let’s take dishwashing as an example. Mundane as it is, it's still an excellent opportunity to practice mindfulness. Really focus on your senses at the moment. What does the soap smell like? What is the temperature of the water against your skin? Impressively, research shows that mindful dishwashing increases calm and decreases stress. Better yet, you end up with clean dishes!
- Take a mindful walk – Many of us are so busy trying to get to our destinations that we forget to pay attention to the journey. That’s why you should take a mindful walk, where you focus your attention to the actual experience of walking. Hear the crunch of the gravel beneath your steps. Notice the sights, sounds, smells, and feel of the world as you move through it.
- Breathe mindfully – Any activity can be done mindfully. And that includes even the simple act of breathing! On normal days, your breathing occurs naturally and rhythmically. But when you pay attention to it, it takes you out of your mind and into your body. Breathing mindfully can decrease anxiety and boost memory.
- Write about what you’ve been noticing – If you find it difficult to practice mindfulness throughout the day, you might need something a little more deliberate to get the engine started: journaling. Setting some time aside to write in your journal about everything that’s happened during the day allows you to develop your inner stillness and insight, and listen deeply to your experience.
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