Finding time and ways to practice mindfulness and be more present in our day to day lives doesn’t need to be complicated. It’s actually possible to be mindful nearly anywhere and at any time. This list will give you different ways to practice mindfulness – many of which you can practice almost immediately, whether you’re on a bus reading this on your phone, or you’re on your computer at work.
1. Wait for things patiently
How often do we find ourselves waiting for something in our everyday life? We wait in line at the grocery store. We wait to be seen by the dentist. We wait in traffic or at a red light.
Use this seemingly annoying or inconvenient time to practice patience.
What does it mean to practice patience mindfully? Sit and observe and notice your feelings of impatience, restlessness, or annoyance.
Become curious of this feelings. See what happens when you try to sit with them as you wait for something.
2. Mindful device usage
Technology has added convenience, security, entertainment, and efficiency to many people’s lives.
While technology such as mobile phones, computers, and the internet might be a net positive on society, usage of these devices has become, for lack of a better term, mindless.
We wake up and immediately check our phones.
We surf and browse websites without any intention or purpose in mind.
We check email and respond to alerts and notifications almost immediately, despite what we’re doing and in the middle of.
Instead of checking your phone every few minutes, try to be more mindful of each time you pick up your phone. Why did you just pick up your phone? What are you about to do? Do you really need to check that now or are you bored? Avoiding something awkward? Using your phone to avoid anxious feelings?
Try to set an intention every time you use are about to browse the internet. What information are you seeking? What are you looking for? Once you accomplish your intention mindfully in this way, you’ll be much less likely to browse mindlessly.
Mindful device usage can also mean being better at controlling technology and not allowing technology to control us or our attention.
Try turning off alerts, disabling notifications, and scheduling your device usage time so that it’s more intentional. Try to leave the devices out of the bedroom at night, or away from the dinner table. Don’t allow devices to pull your attention away from what you’re presently doing.
3. Mindful eating
Today, most people either use eating as a way to distract themselves from emotions or eat while distracted.
Very rarely will we sit down and enjoy a meal in the moment.
Part of this is because eating in most cultures has become social. This is great, but whenever you find yourself alone with a meal, don’t reach for the TV remote or try to get some work done.
Instead, sit and actually taste the food. Sit and actually smell the food. Sit and actually feel the texture of the food in your mouth and hands. The weight of the food on the end of the fork.
Try to chew just a little more slowly. Actually think about the chewing.
It might even feel weird to you to be this present while you eat, since it’s something that many of us are not really used to.
It doesn’t need to be an entire meal either. It can be the next bite you take from a snack.
Try to take a few moments in your next meal or snack to be more present while eating.
4. Mindful walking and commuting
Going for a long walk is a great way to clear your head when you’re feeling cloudy or upset.
However, walking is a great way to practice mindfulness as well.
Use times when you’re going for a walk or even commuting (whether it’s in your car or on foot) to practice mindfulness.
Notice the soles of your feet on the floor. Notice the people and nature around you in your peripheral vision. Notice the noises and sounds around you as you walk.
Notice the rhythm and pattern of each step you make. The swaying of the arms and hips. The lift of one foot as another reaches the ground.
Don’t force or change anything about your walk. Just notice it.
5. Mindful chores
Chores can be boring, repetitive, and seemingly monotonous. But have you ever tried to be present as you do the dishes or mop the floor?
You might notice that whenever you’re running an errand or doing chores, it doesn’t require a lot of cognitive effort. This is the perfect opportunity for our minds to start wandering. To become lost in thought. To start dwelling and inventing worries.
How often have you been in the middle of doing a chore and caught yourself daydreaming?
The next time you are doing the dishes or sweeping the floor, become present.
Notice the thoughts that enter your mind. Non-judgmentally return your mind to the task at hand whenever you notice it wandering.
Actually pay attention to the dish you’re washing and the sensations that come along with it. The smell of the soap. The feeling of the soles of your feet on the ground. Your hands under the warm running water.
Journaling is seemingly becoming a lost art. Not many more people are putting their pens and pencils to paper and writing down their thoughts and feelings from the day that just passed.
You might feel that thinking about the day that just happened is not very mindful since we’re processing the past. But sitting down and processing the day, how we feel about it, and articulating these thoughts and feelings onto paper is not only cathartic, it’s a way to break out of the momentum of everyday life.
Part of why mindfulness is so important is that it slows down life, just a tiny bit.
Most people are living on momentum. Never slowing down to “smell the roses” so to speak. Never slowing down to actually process what’s happening.
Instead, the days fly by, events fly by, and very little conscious effort is put into examining their own lives.
Journaling is one way to slow life down a little bit. It’s one way to examine our lives and be more mindful of our short time here on this planet.
7. Mindfulness meditation
Of course, meditation is an excellent way to practice mindfulness. It forces you to sit down and actually spend the time to do it, even if you were caught up in thoughts and thinking the rest of the day.
A meditation practice helps break this up.
But it also helps train us to be more mindful outside of the practice.
Developing this muscle and this response to things happening around us and to our thoughts, will help us be just a little more present in our day to day life.
Declutter The Mind is an app that allows you to practice mindfulness meditation for free. Be sure to check it out.