You’ve no doubt heard by now regular meditation is a great way to let go, de-stress and improve your mood. In fact, the physical and psychological benefits of meditation are well documented. Meditation has been shown to improve health issues from chronic pain to depression and anxiety. It sharpens your attention, improves your memory and potentially even slows the ageing process. The problem? Despite these benefits, it can still be challenging to carve out the time to implement a regular meditation practice.
The good news is you can cultivate some of those benefits without sitting down on a meditation cushion and there are ways to be more mindful even on the busiest of days. While they’re not a substitute for putting in the effort to make meditation a regular practice, these daily mindfulness practices will definitely improve the quality of your attention and wellbeing over time.
Every time you engage in a daily activity – it could be driving or showering – bring your awareness to your five senses. What can you feel on your skin (temperature, pressure, texture)? What can you hear, smell, see, taste? Connecting with your senses gets you out of your busy, distracted mind and firmly back into the present where you can choose to respond to what’s going on around you rather than just reacting out of habit.
When you do your daily workout or when you stretch afterwards. Instead of thinking of what you’re going to do next, bring your full awareness to the sensations in your body. See if you can notice those sensations without judging them. Be aware of any tendency to label physical sensations as good, bad, painful or pleasant. Instead, try to adopt an attitude of interest and curiosity. It’s that ability to observe your experience without judging it that’s central to mindfulness.
Rather than rushing through meals or eating on the run, take time to sit down and savour the experience. Take in the visual aspects of your meal, notice how it smells, chew slowly and be aware of the range of flavours and textures. You’ll not only appreciate your meal more but you’ll give your digestive system a helping hand. Eating mindfully helps you to know when you’re full and curbs mindless snacking so your waistline might thank you too.
If you know when you’re busy and preoccupied you tend to give people only partial attention, remove the digital distractions and make eye contact with the person you’re talking to. Let go of anything else pulling for your attention and resolve to show interest, ask questions and really listen for the answers. Set an intention to be more engaged with your partner, kids, friends or co-workers.
Take a few minutes to check in with your breath and body. If you notice any tension, consciously relax. If you’re feeling stiff, stand up and stretch. Notice what thoughts are circling around your head and decide whether you might want to let them go. Take a few deep, mindful breaths before moving on with your next task with purpose and intention.