5 Simple Ways To Practice Mindfulness
How often do we find ourselves just going through life without really taking it in? It gets stressful and frustrating, so we switch into auto pilot to rest our tired brains. We are alive, but are we really living? With summer here things are about to get fun, and also busy. Its important to make sure we practice mindfulness. You would hate to miss out on what could be your kid’s favorite memory of the summer, because you were just going through the motions. Being mindful really isn’t as hard as it might seem. And you probably won’t remember to practice it at every second of the day. Just like anything else, the more you practice it, the more it will become second nature. Really, mindfulness is something I struggle with so I’m hoping we can learn to be better about it, together.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
So to be mindful we must be present in the now, not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. We must also be aware of our feelings and accept those feelings. This could include our emotions, intuition, and body language (like relaxing in a happy situation or tensing up in a scary situation). It sounds like we should easily be able to know these things about ourselves, but you would be surprised how many people don’t tune in to how their very own body feels and reacts, and how many people are in tune, but choose to disregard it. That can be very destructive to ourselves. We need to give our body and mind the attention it deserves. This is where mindfulness comes in.
Living mindfully will reduce stress, raise self-confidence, improve happiness, and keep your body and mind healthy. But how? Not everyone has time to meditate for 30 or even 15 minutes a day, or go through some huge 60 minute yoga practice. Sometimes we are rushing from one thing to another and barely have time to eat and drink water much less try to tune in on how our bodies are reacting to something. Well, first of all, you totally deserve better from yourself, and second, it can totally be done!
Mindfulness while Eating
Mindful Eating is practice that involves eating with full attention and conscious intention. Some view it as a form of meditation that brings awareness to our body. You are asked to tune in and notice when your body is hungry. This means we must learn our body’s cues; real hunger vs. emotional or boredom hunger. Do not give in to those boredom pangs, get up and do a chore instead. Same with emotional hunger, being sad doesn’t equal eating ice cream. It is also important to notice when your body is full. When you start to feel full, stop and take a big gulp of water, then take 1 more small bite to savor the taste then stop. Immediately clean the plate in the sink or place napkin on top of it so there is no temptation to eat more for no reason. Mindful Eating is a way of showing respect to our body by honoring its needs. Here are some great ways to practice Mindful Eating.
- Check it out: When you have your plate of food in front of you, really look at it and take it in. Look at all the different colors and textures. Appreciate the person who prepared it.
- Close your eyes: For the very first bite, close your eyes. When you withdraw a sense the others can work harder, so with closed eyes your taste buds can taste more, the smell is better. Appreciate it.
- Impress Gordon Ramsay: Going along with the point above, try to identify as many ingredients with your taste buds as you can. Really stop and think about how much, or possibly even how little, goes into making your food.
- Chew food longer: Focus on chewing for longer, so you can give you body more time between bites. I find if I count to 25 while chewing I enjoy my food for longer instead of just chewing enough to swallow and repeat.
- Take the “no phone challenge”: This is so fun. It can be done at home or out to eat with friends. Everyone puts their phone someplace together, in a basket or just a pile off to the corner, and the first one to grab their phone before the meal has ended has to do the dishes, or pay! Without your phone you are not only forced to concentrate on your food, but everything else happening around you – family, friends, a beautiful beach, or high rise apartment. Appreciate the whole moment, distraction free!
- Embrace the “awkward” silence: Without your phone as a crutch, there are bound to be some “awkward” silences. It doesn’t have to be awkward. Make it useful. Get in a “mini-meditation” by pulling in your focus and just concentrate on your breath. Say a prayer, a mantra, your favorite affirmation. Every moment can be useful to our journey.
Track Your Water Intake
Especially in the summer months, this needs to be a mindfulness moment throughout your day. When life is so busy and we are always running around, sometimes its possible to forget to eat, or even hydrate. Tracking your water intake on a phone app or a journal or planner, will make you pause throughout the day and use that brain. It also gives us the lovely opportunity to focus on our health! Hydration is so important to keeping your blood flowing, losing weight, and aiding digestion that it is extremely important we take the time to focus on ourselves. It’s not selfish to make sure you keep yourself healthy!!
This goes for others and ourselves. Do not judge others, you don’t know the journey they are on. If you are not living it, it’s not for you to judge. Do not judge yourself. You are walking the path that has been provided, so cut yourself some slack. I am struggling with this at the moment with my girls. They are both in phases where they cry, fight with me, and are very defiant. It’s a struggle to keep all of my actions and words kind, patient, and fueled only by love. Frustration happens, sometimes anger does too. I am trying my hardest to not judge myself and my parenting abilities just because my kids are going through phases. I know I am doing the best I can, and really what else can be asked of me? It’s the same for everyone!
Quick Yoga Workout
Obviously I am going to talk about yoga, it’s just my thing. Yoga is seriously the coolest thing for seeing mindfulness in full force! Muscles moving, joints working, our bodies are making beautiful shapes. Part of your practice should always be mindfulness, especially on the mat. Doing a quick vinyasa flow will really give you a chance to feel all the different parts of the body moving and working together. Pay attention to the transitions, find a good instructor who uses cues that you can understand. Try your hardest to really keep all of your focus on that yoga mat. It’s hard, but for a quick flow, I know you can do it! To me, it’s such an intimate thing to feel our bodies doing what they do. It’s kind of spiritual even… OK. I know, I am so that crazy hippie, I can’t help it!
Here are some flows I like:
- The Journey Junkie: 20 Minute Flow to Feel Good
- SaraBeth Yoga: 10 Minute Mindful Morning Yoga Routine
- Yoga with Adriene: Yoga for Focus & Productivity
Get to Writing
Journaling is a great way to practice mindfulness. If you journal right before bed, it forces you to focus, think, and recall back into your day. The more your journal, the more you will find your brain get trained to remember and easily recall important things from your day. It doesn’t have to be a diary of every event from the day. It could be what 5 things made you happy today, or drawings that represent something to you. Whatever is authentic to you and lets you reflect is the correct way to journal. Some people journal in a bible, in a spiral notebook, in fancy notebooks. Pick up on what calls to you, let your mind and body create whatever flows out. Just take the 5 minutes, sit down, focus, and let your light shine from within onto the pages!
I hope these pieces of advice can be inspiration to you. The more mindfulness you have, you will see your life get richer because you are noticing more about it. The richness is there, we just need to let it in and appreciate it.
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