Mindfulness is to be totally aware of our bodies and our surrounding environment. It means to simply notice our thoughts, feelings, and sensations in our body. The growth comes when we simply acknowledge these senses, rather than judge them for being “right” or “wrong”. It is a practice of tuning in to the present moment, rather than planning and imagining that future or replaying the past over and over in your head.
Mindfulness is a journey that takes practice. However, it’s important to realize that there is no destination; the journey itself is the ultimate goal. Mindfulness is not a competition with others, nor is it a competition with yourself. In today’s technology overloaded world, mindfulness is more important than ever. But separating yourself from the fast pace of the day-to-day is a bit more testing than it may sound. Follow these few simple tips for guidance on your journey.
- Start a gratitude journal. Begin your day with writing down three things you are grateful for. Before bed, write down three amazing things that happened during your day. It doesn’t have to be anything major, even noticing that simple things like having great weather can help you shift to a more positive mindset. Keep your journal on your bedside table along with a pen so it’s always easily accessible.
- Meditate every day. There’s a common misconception that meditation means to stop all of your thoughts. Not only is that untrue, it’s generally not possible. Meditation is simply a time of relaxation and concentration. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Pay attention to the feelings in your body and any sounds that are happening around you. This simple process can give your major benefits even if you practice for only 10-15 each day. It’s easy to fit this into your morning and night routines, right around the time when you’re filling out your gratitude journal. Even if that doesn’t work for you, the important thing is that you do it. Whether it’s morning, noon, or night, you’ll be sure to feel calm, focused, and empowered.
- Appreciate your food. You don’t have to go out of your way to do anything elaborate to make meal time special, just sit down at your table and focus on your food. Turn off the TV and put away your phone while you’re at it, too. Take the time to appreciate how your food looks, smells, tastes, and how it makes your feel. Try incorporating this technique when it coming to snacking too. You’ll learn that being mindful with your food is much more satisfying than any mindless snacking!
- Spend time outdoors. Spending just a few minutes outdoors everyday can completely change your perspective on life. Go jogging with your dog in the park, ride your bike and explore some new streets, or walk somewhere nearby that you would normally drive to. Even if the weather is gloomy and rainy, still do your best to get outdoors. You’ll notice that a positive mindset is all you need to love even being caught in the rain – even if you used to hate it! This daily routine is one that you’ll likely start to look forward to, and even crave.
- Limit your use of technology. The next time your feel the urge to take your phone out of your pocket, stop yourself and ask “why?” Much of the time, you’ll find you rely on your phone to fill any empty time that you have during the day. Instead use this time to look around, take some deep breaths, and simply appreciate your surrounding. Limiting technology is particularly important right before bedtime. The blue light that is emitted from our technology interrupts our body’s natural sleep cycle. Even if you switch your phone to a warm light setting to help avoid that, you’re still not doing your body and mind much of a favor. All of those articles and Instagram posts will still be there waiting for you in the morning.
- Develop a (healthy) nighttime routine. This goes hand-in-hand with limiting your technology use. So many of our nighttime routines involve lying in bed on our phones or laptops until we simply cannot keep our eyes open. If you use technology as your sleep aid, it’s time to try something new. Take a relaxing shower, put on comfortable pajamas, sip some herbal tea, and do your nightly gratitude journal entry. Try it for a week and see how much better you feel!
Combine all of these tips and you’ll be sure to find yourself becoming mindful, even in our busy world. Mindfulness is an ongoing practice, and this is just the beginning. This transformation is one that is sure to be a life-changer in more ways than one.