Ahh, mindfulness. This buzzword has been getting thrown around a lot lately. You might be even more familiar with it if you are someone who frequents yoga classes or group meditation workshops. For the rest of you, it may be a word that sounds complicated and abstract, but really, it’s quite simple: Mindfulness is the state of being conscious or aware of something; it is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique (as defined by Webster).
What’s so great about practicing mindfulness, you ask? Being mindful helps to center us, ground us, give us perspective, and keep us in tune to what’s going on around us. In this fast-paced society we all live, it can be easy to get lost in distractions like a busy schedule, stress at home or at work, or even the world of social media. Practicing mindfulness gives us the opportunity to remove ourselves from all of that chaos and noise daily—even if it’s just for 10 minutes.
Several of our editors have been making an effort to practice mindfulness more often, and they have reported experiencing a greater general sense of peace, better decision making, and even overall happiness. The changes might be subtle at first, but mindfulness is definitely a practice worth incorporating into your routine. And today, we’re giving you five tools for doing just that. Read below to find out five ways to incorporate mindfulness into your life. We encourage you to choose one that speaks to you most, give it a try for the next two weeks, and see what happens…
1. Remember to breathe.
Oftentimes, we can get caught up with the craziness of our to-do list during a day that we forget to, well, breathe. Remembering to take a deep breath can calm your nervous system, re-center your thoughts, and de-stress your mind. Remembering to breathe also helps us to take a step back and be conscious of what’s going on around us—therefore promoting mindfulness. If you find that you often forget to take deep breaths during the day, we recommend writing the word “breathe” on a post-it note and placing it somewhere you’ll see it when you need it. That might be on the corner of your computer monitor, it might be on your steering wheel, or it might be on your refrigerator. Wherever you place it, each time you see it, take that moment as an opportunity to close your eyes, breathe in and out deeply, and be mindful of the thoughts and feelings you are experiencing. It only takes a moment, but it’s worth it. Another idea is to incorporate the word breathe into your affirmation password on your computer to help you remember (for example r3Member2Br3athe!). Click here to learn more about affirmation passwords.
2. Do an 8-minute meditation.
If you’ve never meditated before, don’t be intimidated by it. You don’t have to know what you’re doing and be an expert right away to dive into this practice that is so healthy for you, mentally. We recommend downloading an app that walks you through a guided meditation, like Headspace, Brightmind, Simple Habit or Calm. Any one of these is a great tool to help you take some time out of your day to meditate… And practicing meditating will only help you get better and better at it! Meditation and mindfulness go hand-in-hand, as meditating helps you to be aware of your thoughts coming in and out, as though you are watching them come in waves in front of you, rather than being controlled by them. It’s an extremely healthy and calming practice that is easy to jump right into. If you prefer to read your way through a new habit, you can also buy the book 8 Minute Meditation, which claims to quiet your mind and change your life. Enough said.
3. Take a walk.
All of us here at Team LC have always been big fans of the simple concept of taking a walk. We turn to it when we have writer’s block, when we’re feel frustrated about a relationship, when we’re trying to de-stress, and a million other reason in between. Hitting the sidewalk can work wonders. And we’re big advocates for taking a distraction-free walk in order to practice mindfulness. By distraction-free, we mean without cell phone, headphones, wallet or anything that will distract you. You can wear a watch or step tracker that keeps time if you need it, but leave behind anything else that might keep you from being in the present moment. Go for a walk just for the sake of clearing your head. Be mindful and aware of the scenery around you, and watch your thoughts as they come and go.
4. Make a mantra.
Having a mantra is a great tool to turn to when you need a little dose of mindfulness to center you and get you back into the present moment. It can be something as simple as “I am healthy, I am strong, I am doing the best I can everyday.” Or, it can be something that opens you up such as “I am open to love and guidance from the universe.” You can also make yours a general goal you strive for every day: “I am working every day to living a happier, more peaceful life.” Whatever feels important to you, make it your mantra. And then, when you feel the need to practice your daily mindfulness, you will have a go-to phrase that gets you in the headspace to tune in and feel centered.
5. Pick a prompt.
If you’re someone who does well with methodically scheduling out every minute of your day, picking a prompt might be a great way to practice mindfulness. This can be achieved in many forms, but we recommend setting an alarm on your phone or having a daily reminder that tells you it’s time to take a moment and be mindful. You can also create an event on your calendar titled “Practice Mindfulness” or “Me Time” to help you set aside a few minutes of the day to focus on mental clarity. Or, maybe your time set for mindfulness is when you are doing something that’s a part of your daily routine—like taking a shower, brushing your teeth, or having your morning coffee without interruptions or distractions. Having a prompt is a great way to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine and make it a habit. Whenever you choose to do it, remember that being mindful means being in the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
Which mindfulness practice speaks most to you?
Let us know in the comments below and let us know if you give it a try! We’d love to hear your feedback about how practicing mindfulness affects your daily mindset.
XO Team LC