Mindfulness, as a wellness “trend”, is so hot right now. We’ve all seen it called out in magazine articles, hash-tagged in our Instagram feeds and instructed during our yoga classes. But what mindfulness actually means is less ubiquitous. Put simply: Mindfulness is non-judgmental awareness of the present moment. Mindfulness is engaging with whatever you are doing—as you are doing it—by observing your experience with all of your senses.
Right now, for example: Notice the feeling of wherever you are sitting (or standing), notice the air on your skin, the temperature of your body. Can you hear all of the sounds in your environment? Can you observe those sounds without labeling what they are? Can you smell whatever you smell without judging whether said scent is good or bad? Can you be aware of movement of your breath as it flows in and out of your body? Look around right now beyond this screen, and notice the colors, shapes, vibrancy or dullness. Can you see, hear, smell and feel all of the life around you in this moment? This, folks, is an experience of presence; this is mindfulness.
The benefits of practicing mindfulness are far-reaching: Meditations and mindfulness exercises are used to ease those who suffer with depression, anxiety, chronic pain and everyday lifestyle stress. Mindful eating has even been used to help weight loss.
You don’t need to meditate to be mindful; you don’t even need to read a book on the topic. (…Although both of these activities are highly recommended if you want to experience more peace, calm and presence in your life.) Mindfulness can be brought into every moment of every experience in your life. Here, three everyday activities you can turn into mini mindfulness practices.
Brush your teeth. Hold your toothbrush and notice the color, shape and weight of it. Squeeze your toothpaste on your brush, and observe the color and smell. Notice what happens in your mouth before you even begin to brush. Place it in your mouth and notice the taste and the texture, and begin making small, slow movements. Observe how your hand naturally moves, and the rhythm it creates with the brush—almost as if you don’t even need to think of how it moves. Feel the texture of the brush on your teeth, gums, and notice how the sensation changes as you continue.
Take a walk. As you walk along a route you may take every day, first bring awareness to your feet as they touch the ground. Can you feel where the weight falls on your feet? As if you were kissing the earth, allow your feet to meet the ground with lightness. Notice your legs as they do their thing, bending, straightening, balancing you in your own natural rhythm. Look around at your environment and take in every shape, color and texture. What could you smell right now? Can you notice anything about your surroundings that you’ve never noticed before?
Cook something. When you are preparing your food, look at each ingredient you are using. Consider for a moment where each one came from. If it is fresh, who picked it? If it is packaged, where was it packaged? Smell each food, look at the shape, texture and color. Notice each utensil that you use and feel the weight and texture of the utensil. Notice how you are creating something entirely new; each of these ingredients have never before been cut, opened, and mixed. Admire the magic of your present.
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