Mindfulness, meditation, and yoga are all wonderful and effective ways to bring some calm into our hectic lives. We know it, we believe it, we feel it, we benefit from it. So how come on some days it is so hard to get to a place of peace, bliss and quietness, be it from lack of time or lack of effort?
Here’s my theory: Many of us, when trying to get to that place of peace, try to do so amidst an already-busy schedule, as opposed to “booking” the time to commit fully. Meaning that, oftentimes, the few minutes of being present you intended to squeeze in between, say, your morning coffee and the commute to work gets skipped over, and, before we know it, we are crawling into bed for the night and beating ourselves up because we didn’t make the effort. (Sound familiar?)
In an ideal world, yes, we would be constantly present and mindful in everything that we do. In reality, however, there are too many things to take up that precious headspace. So how can we incorporate mindfulness into our day in a way that is really doable?
Multi-task—with purpose. Most of us have a standard morning routine. We get out of bed, brush our teeth, shower, have a cup of something and some breakfast. And guess what: If you set your alarm clock just five or ten earlier than your usual time, you can incorporate your mindfulness practice into any one of these daily rituals. I, personally, find that showering is a great time to just be. I try to really focus on the experience, the hot water, the feeling of washing away any worries or anxieties. For those few moments in the shower, I am fully present.
Try to find those moments for yourself. Take the time to sit down with that first drink. Relish in the stillness of the early morning, notice how the drink tastes and feels as it slips down your throat. I love taking my first cup of tea / coffee/ matcha outside, listening to the birds and being fully present in that stillness and relishing the quiet time as the day full comes awake. By adding a few extra minutes to your morning, you can make mindfulness as habitual as brushing your teeth.
Turn the mundane into a trigger to be mindful. As we go throughout our day, we experience constant repetition. How many times in one day does our phone beep to announce an incoming text message or email? How often to do you stop to check Instagram? How many times do you fill the kettle with water to boil, or reach over to put your seat belt on when you get into a car?
All of these tasks (and endless others) are great prompts to take a few moments and bring yourself back to the present. To be mindful of the experiences and surroundings you are in at that given time. My trigger? I live not too far from an airport, and my office window looks out over the flight path. Seeing a plane take-off was my “trigger” to just stop what I was doing and be present in that moment.
Remember: Variety is the spice of life. There are endless activities that we can participate in which are conducive to being mindful. Meditation, of course, is one obvious (and effective!) method, but other in-the-moment pursuits include listening to a piece of music, reading a book, writing in a journal, drawing, painting or breaking out those colored pencils to use in an adult coloring book.
Heck, even washing the dishes can be utilized as a moment of calm and tranquillity in your day. Let the soap suds be your trigger, purposefully and mindfully completing an ordinary, everyday, mundane task. How about being totally conscious of the sensations and experience of hoovering your carpets? No task is off limits to mindfulness.
Go easy on yourself. (Best laid plans and all that.) Of course, there will be times when things don’t go according to plan and you will skip, forget or overlook your mindfulness practice, maybe even for days on end. Our natural response when these things happen is to give ourselves a hard time, knowing that we have missed out on an opportunity to still ourselves and de-stress for a moment or two. This happens to the best of us and the rule here is to get over it—and quickly. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Maybe even use that recognition as another trigger to just take a minute and get back into that place of awareness and gratitude.
The beauty of the present moment is that it is always there. It is not going anywhere. If you miss one, another is always along straight after. You cannot escape the present moment, it is here, it is now—and, coupled with your ever-present breath, you have all that you need right now.
“Wherever you go, there you are.” Jon Kabat-Zinn
A few more ways to cultivate mindfulness:
- How mudras can help elevate your consciousness
- A 30-second trick for mindful eating
- The difference between mindfulness and meditation
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