Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through meditation and other techniques. When people practice mindfulness their minds and bodies feel more relaxed and calm, they are more clear on what matters and can make wiser decisions and live happier lives.
Attending mindfulness retreats is a great way to develop this practice and I suggest everyone to go on retreats at least once a year, but it’s not easy to find time to escape from our busy lives. So what can we do in our everyday lives to practice mindfulness?
The breath is the most powerful tool we have to bring attention to the present moment. It's our anchor to the now experience. It doesn’t happen in the past or in the future but only in the present, so we should use it. It’s a wonderful practice to start the day taking five to ten deep breaths and throughout the day come back to it, especially when feeling overwhelmed. Notice what you are feeling in the body and mind while staying connected to the breath. You might feel tired, stressed, happy, angry, or you simply might notice that your mind is very active or that you have pain or discomfort in your body. Notice of all this while maintaining breath awareness.
When you wake up, be aware of all the little movements of your body in bed. When you get out of bed, be aware of your feet touching the floor for the first time that day. Then notice your body and feet walking to work or school and so on all day. If you are running do the same. Bringing mindfulness to movement can bring appreciation to the fact that you can move, rather than taking it for granted because you don’t usually pay attention to it.
Pay attention to what you eat. Be aware and thankful of the food on your plate. It can help you find more joy in what you are eating, and it can also bring insight to foods you are eating that aren’t healthy. How often do you eat in front of the computer, your phone or you read while eating? Who is eating the food if you are busy with something else? Fully experience your food; notice the taste, the color, the temperature. Make this mindfulness food experience start before you order, be mindful while choosing what's on the menu and it can help you make healthier food choices as well.
When you are talking to someone listen deeply to what they say, paying attention without distraction. You would be surprised to know how many things you can discover about people if you listened to them with mindfulness. Take moments in the day to pause, keep your eyes open or closed and really tune into the knowing of sounds coming and going.
Play with these mindful things and notice the changes in your life!