‘Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without’ - Buddha
Bringing mindfulness to your everyday life is key to finding mental peace. Simplifying your mindset and focussing on the present moment helps to centre and give perspective to a hectic and stressful world we live in. Try these simple strategies and see how they elevate your daily life.
1. MINDFULNESS MINUTE
Try adding Meditation Minutes throughout the day. Using a timer set to one minute, clear your mind and focus your entire attention on your breathing. Keep your eyes closed, take deep, slow breaths and try to let go of all thoughts. If you find your mind wandering, gently let go of the thought and bring your attention back to breathing deeply in and out. Divert your focus as many times as you need; the more often you practice this, the easier it will be to focus without your mind drifting back into thought. Mindfulness minutes are perfect to centralise your mind if you are beginning to feel stressed or annoyed.
2. MINDFUL CHORES
No one likes the daily grind of cooking, cleaning and tidying up. However, taking these opportunities to practise mindfulness will help you find pleasure in mundane tasks. When you next have to do the laundry or prepare a meal, focus your awareness fully on the task at hand. Engage with each process of the task rather than rushing and letting your mind wander on ‘fast’ thoughts.
For example, if cooking dinner, as you chop and prepare the ingredients, don’t rush to finish the task. Notice the texture and smells of the ingredients, the colours and patterns and the way heat and light change the appearance and smell of each ingredient. Take pride in cutting each piece evenly and arranging the finished meal nicely on the plate. Don’t forget to take time to actually enjoy eating the meal. Savour the taste and scent of the meal; take small bites and chew slowly, pausing between each mouthful to fully immerse yourself in the culinary experience.
Practise this for all your daily housework; it helps to make the boring tasks a little ritual, letting you stay in tune with the current moment, how you feel and how you perceive the world around you.
3. MINDFUL TASKING
Multi-tasking is now a normal way of functioning. People believe it makes us more productive and better at our jobs and personal lives. However in reality, it drains us. Spreading your attention across so many things makes you prone to mistakes, resulting in you feeling more tired and gaining less satisfaction from finishing each task. Try to focus on one thing at a time, with full awareness of what you are working on. By doing this, you are not going to be rushing and you will be less likely to make mistakes or forget details, and the quality of each task should improve. You will actually become more efficient and be able to have satisfaction from finishing a task without wearing yourself out.
4. MINDFUL WALKING
Being mindful whilst walking gives you the perfect chance to practise calming your mind. Focus on the sensation your body makes as it moves, how the ground feels and the sway of your clothes. Pay attention to your surroundings; the buildings, plants and birds in the trees. You can practise this on your way to work, from the car park, the shops, or even in the hallways at work. Be present, and take a second to drink in the world around you, refreshing your mind and body.
5. MINDFUL AWARENESS
On any given day, you will often feel urges and impulses; whether it’s for coffee, chocolate or sugar, you can twist these cravings into submission, just by observing rather than acting. The next time you feel the unconscious need for something, practise just observing the thought - not fighting or giving in. Notice how it makes you feel, but don’t get caught up in thoughts relating to it. Notice if the craving is a physical feeling and observe why you are experiencing this. Because it is just a thought, you should be able to override this need. Within half an hour the craving should pass. Every time you practise this, it will be easier the next time to bypass the craving, liberating you and giving you greater control.
6. MINDFUL WORKOUT
Why not try mindfulness whilst being active? Whether you’re burning calories on the treadmill, riding a bike or dancing, instead of simply working out you can synchronise your breathing to boost your heart rate and make you feel more invigorated. Follow the steps below to see how mindfulness can improve your workout experience and results.
- Clear your mind. Whatever the physical activity, envision what you want to accomplish from your session. For example, if you are going for a run, before you begin try thinking ‘I’m going to synchronise my breathing, and pay attention to the passing scenery, the weather and the sensation of my body’s movement’.
- Warm-up. Take 5 minutes to stretch and match your breath with the rhythm of your movements. This will help your mind and body stabilise, preparing it to get the most from the exercise and avoid injury.
- Settle into a rhythm. For 10-15 minutes, find your optimum speed and intensity, remembering to match your breathing to your movement.
- Challenge yourself. After finding your rhythm, push yourself to go faster, do more repetitions or heavier weights for another 10-15 minutes. Pay attention to how much more alert and alive you feel when pushing your physical boundaries.
- Cool down. Steadily slow down for 5 minutes. Notice how your body feels, what muscles are warmed up and what is going on around you.
- Rest. Take another 5 minutes to be completely still, allowing your heart rate to come back to normal. Check in with your breathing and how your body feels. Go back to the mental targets you made and see what you have accomplished. Relish the feeling of vitality.
7. MINDFUL DRIVING
Daily on your morning commute, you will often feel impatient particularly if there is heavy traffic. Stress levels rise, tempers shorten and reason is forgotten. Try these steps when you feel your anger rising.
- Take a deep breath. This simply allows more oxygen into your body which helps to stabilise your emotions and give clarity on the situation.
- Ask yourself what you need. Perhaps you feel angry that it is taking longer to get home or to work, or maybe you just don’t feel safe.
- Give yourself what you need. If you need to feel calm, try to focus on where your body is tense, like your shoulders, and adjust your body to feel more relaxed. Try to think of calming and reaffirming thoughts like ‘I am safe, I am calm, I am happy’.
- Gain empathy. Every other driver is in the same situation that you are and wants to feel safe and happy. There will be a few drivers who look agitated or angry, but you might notice drivers who are smiling or singing along to music. Seeing other people who are relaxed and calm will help you to feel the same, realising that this is momentary.
- Take another deep breath. Very quickly by following these steps, your mood will lift and you should feel much calmer. Breathe deeply and focus on the good things - this can help you gain perspective and can be applied to most stressful situations.
8. WATCH YOUR MIND
Practising mindfulness in all life’s moments, by self-observing and taking time to think rather than react is key to developing a calmer and more relaxed mindset. The moment you ask yourself whether you are being mindful, you are being mindful, as you are not letting auto-pilot take over. Listen to the voice in your head as often as you can, and try to nullify repetitious or negative thought patterns. Question your thoughts and try to condition them to see and enjoy the small things in life. You will have so much more satisfaction from the wonderful every day.