I think we’ve all heard about mindfulness by now and what it can do for our wellbeing. It calms the mind, reduces stress and tension, and can even help lessen anxiety and depression.
One of the reasons why mindfulness, or present moment awareness, is so powerful is because it forces you to focus on the here and now, which simply means what’s goin’ on in this very moment. Not what happened in the past, not what may come in the future, but the safe, harmless moment of right this very second.
How often are you worrying about the past or the future? I most definitely have a tendency to do this, and I’ve found that a little bit of mindfulness goes a long, long way.
It doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming, either. You don’t need to go to a 30 day yoga retreat (although that would be lovely) in order to achieve the level of peace and comfort that mindfulness brings. All you need to do is learn a few easy strategies for how and when to do it – even in small ways – each day!
These small, everyday mindfulness practices utilize all 5 of our senses: Smell, touch, sight, taste, and sound. By using these senses we’re able to almost immediately pull ourselves into the present moment.
5 EASY WAYS TO PRACTICE MINDFULNESS EVERYDAY
Mindfulness is quite easy to practice when you’re cooking, and it’s one of my favourite times to do it! In fact, sometimes I find myself practicing this “present moment awareness” while I’m cooking, without even realizing it.
HOW TO DO IT
When preparing a meal, take a moment to appreciate the colour, texture and quality of the ingredients you’re about to use. This is especially enjoyable with fresh, wholesome goodies.
When chopping up vegetables or herbs, notice your knife carving each slice, and the fragrance of the foods as you go along. Notice the sounds and scents of all your ingredients coming together as you stir them.
Take a moment to mindfully place your food onto your dishes for serving in a way that looks appealing and inviting. This is “cooking with love” at it’s finest! Then, enjoy your meal with point #2! …
Eating is a great opportunity to practice mindfulness by focusing on the tastes and textures of the food before us. Practicing mindfulness while we’re eating is not only a great way to help us relax, but an excellent way for us to improve our digestion!
When we’re relaxed our body better secretes stomach acid and digestive enzymes to help break down our food. On the contrary, eating while rushed or stressed is a recipe for poor digestion as our body prioritizes expending energy to our limbs for fighting or fleeing.
HOW TO DO IT
Take eating as an opportunity to sit down, chew thoroughly, and savour the smells, flavours and textures before you. What does the food look like? What does it taste like? What does it feel like in your hand or as you chew it? How do you feel after you’ve finished eating? Appreciate your food and be curious about where it came from or how it grew.
Whether you’re walking to your bus stop, walking your dog, or walking just to get outside for some fresh air, this is one of the best times for us to practice mindfulness and reduce stress at the very same time.
HOW TO DO IT
Notice your feet on the ground as you take each step, the sound of your shoes on the ground, the sights and noises surrounding you (cars, birds, leaves blowing in the wind, people walking by), and the feeling of your body carrying you forward. It’s really as simple as that!
I practiced some mindfulness while walking home yesterday and I was instantly comforted by the realization that I am perfectly ok in this very moment, regardless of anything that may be worrying me.
4. IN THE SHOWER
Mindfulness in the shower is a pretty fun experiment. Use the few minutes you have alone to really enjoy and experience your shower fully.
HOW TO DO IT
Notice your hand turning on the water and how you adjust it to the right temperature. Notice the temperature of the water on your skin and how it feels washing over you.
With your cloth or loofah, pay attention to the gentle movements of soapy, bubbly water along your arms and legs. Take washing your hair as an opportunity to do some head massaging: slowly lather your shampoo or conditioner into your hair, notice how your fingers feel as they scrub your scalp and how it feels as the warm water rinses it out.
5. FALLING ASLEEP
Falling asleep is an opportunity to practice some classic mindfulness meditation. It’s also an excellent way to promote restful sleep by calming our mind.
HOW TO DO IT
While laying down in your bed, close your eyes and focus on your breath. Notice your chest rising and falling as you inhale and exhale. If your thoughts are all over the place, just simply notice them and bring your attention back to your breath. Notice the weight of your body against your bed and how your head feels against your pillow. Do you hear any sounds? How do the blankets or your pyjamas feel on your skin?
There are so many opportunities for us to practice mindfulness each day. The more you become aware of this present moment awareness, the more you’ll discover ways to practice it each day.
What other ways do you practice mindfulness? Do you find it helps you relax?