What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a state of conscious awareness. It's noticing the noises, sensations, feelings, emotions in and around you exactly as they are, simply being a witness to them. Bringing your attention to what’s happening, what you’re doing, how you’re feeling, the space you’re in.
In a world of constant distraction and stimulation, mindfulness is extremely important for our happiness and well-being. It allows us to appreciate the food we eat, the people we love and the way we spend our days, without needing to constantly think about where we could be or what we could be doing.
While meditation is the strongest method of practicing mindfulness, there are other ways that you can bring it into your everyday life, no matter how busy you are.
As I was writing this, I noticed how many of these had to do with being mindful while using technology, which comes as no surprise. Technology, whether we like it or not, is an integral part of our world. It's also an easy escape from our realities, and does not require us to be aware whatsoever. We can scroll for hours without having to think about a thing, serving as a way to block out anything that we aren’t ready to feel yet. But the reality is that technology is here to stay, and what matters is how we relate to it. We can use it as a tool to enhance our lives, or let it take us away from our conscious awareness.
Today I’m sharing with you a few simple ways that we can more mindful in your everyday lives. I hope that you notice and enjoy the benefits of these simple practices!
Tap into your breath
Simple breath work is such a beneficial and accessible tool. You don’t need to be in a quiet room to tune into your breath, or even have a chunk of extra time in your day. When a stressful situation hits, whether it's at work or in your personal life, try to remind yourself to breathe. It's easy to resist the unpleasant feeling and grab our phones, a snack, a drink, to distract ourselves from the emotion. But breathing will bring you back to this state of stillness within yourself that's always available. It helps to calm the vagus nerve - “vagus” means wandering in Latin because it travels all throughout your body! It helps to calm our entire nervous system, sending signals to our brain to calm down and that letting it know that we’re safe.
No electronics while eating + right when you wake up/go to bed
This is a HUGE one. While eating, ditch the phone, TV, computer. You do have time + this practice will make such a difference, even if it’s for just ten minutes. I've found that I eat slower, I really taste my food and appreciate its flavors more. I'm also less likely to overeat because I'm fully aware of how my body feels.
While eating, notice how does the food tastes in your mouth. What’s the texture like? What does it feel like to chew and swallow?
Before bed, let your mind unwind and let your body know that it’s preparing for sleep. Use this time to think about how your day went - maybe take some time to stretch or take a warm bath. When you wake up, allow your brain to ease into the morning. Drink some water, take time to meditate, do some deep breathing.
Notice sensations of the body
When you're on the computer, the subway, your phone, notice the way your hands feel while you're typing or holding the railing. When you're walking, focus on the way your feet feel while hitting the pavement, or how the wind feels on your cheeks. These are such simple sensations that we're constantly experiencing but choose to ignore because we're so in our heads in this very busy world.
If you have a bit more time, treat yourself to a body scan. Go from the top of your head all the down to your toes, noticing the way your body feels at each part and allowing yourself to relax and loosen your grip.
Listen + make eye contact
When we're speaking to others, it's easy for our conversation to remind us of other things, and to then trail off onto what we want to say, what we think of what they're saying, etc. Practice mindfulness by making eye contact with whomever you're speaking with and listening to every word they're saying. When a distracting thought comes in, return to their words. Are you truly listening to the person, or are you just hearing them?
Watch your thoughts wander
Our thoughts wander, we’re human! Mindfulness is not about stopping those thoughts, but simply becoming aware of them. When you’re walking down the street, taking the subway to work or just sitting on the couch, let your mind wander, don’t resist the flow of thoughts. And as they wander, watch your thoughts the way that you would watch cars driving down a highway. Not resisting or holding onto them, but just taking note of the way they change, which ones are pretty common, and how your body reacts to the thoughts.
I hope these practices help to bring a bit more stillness and love into your life. Most importantly, be kind to yourself with all of these methods! Mindfulness is a muscle - but rather we’re uncovering the strength that’s always been there.