Mindfulness is not scary or only reserved for monks dwelling in caves. In fact, it’s an innate human capability – to purposely pay attention to whatever is going on inside and outside us, without any judgement. Sometimes our thinking mind can get in the way of what’s happening experiencing the moment we are in, here are a few tips to bring some mindful awareness to your day.
When you first wake up in the morning: before getting out of bed, bring attention to your breathing. Simply observe five mindful breaths – perhaps label the alarm on your phone as a reminder. Become aware of the body and mind as you move from lying down to sitting up. Feel the pressure of the soles of your feet as they meet the ground before proceeding.
Mindful Eating / Drinking: This involves paying attention to the taste, smell, sight and textures of what you eat or drink. Whenever you eat or drink something, pause & take a breath. For example, when drinking a cup of coffee, bring attention to the aromas – take a deep inhale. You could focus on the heat of the liquid as it touches the tongue, or the sweetness etc. Or when eating; bring awareness to what the food looks like, the smells, how it tastes on the tongue and the texture when chewing. Enjoy every mouthful and pay attention as you eat, consciously consuming this food for your physical health.
Bring mindfulness to ‘ordinary activities’ in the day: Even repetitive and routine activities such as brushing your teeth, washing up, brushing your hair and putting your shoes on, all provide an opportunity to be mindful, to awakening all the senses. For example, when brushing your teeth noticing the smooth paste as it makes its way out of the tube on to the bristles, the coarse and sharp sensations across the teeth, the freshness of mint on the tongue, the cool smell coming into the nostrils or the vigour in your arm as it moves from side to side.
The Pause: Stopping to acknowledge that you have completed a task and moving on to the next helps interrupt the autopilot mode we easily slip into when doing things. Aim to pause mindfully when you finish writing an email, perhaps observing 3 breaths, notice the weight of your body on the chair and your surroundings. Or a pause whenever you enter through a door to a room or just about to start the car. It may help to put a few post-it notes around to remind you.
Mindful Exercising: Bringing mindfulness to our workouts can help us to re-connect to our bodies. So, next time your lifting weights or running, see if you can slow down and bring intention to the movements – the interconnectedness of the arms, shoulders and chests as you lift the weight, or the pressure of the soles of your feet hitting the ground running and the sensations in the calves and thighs. Notice your posture, the core and any target muscle groups and focus on the expansion and contraction of these areas. Slow down and remember to breathe…
And remember, it’s not supposed to be a chore – have fun with it and see how it goes.