An Exercise in Mindfulness
Have you heard the term “mindfulness”? You probably have. I had, but I hadn’t really paid attention to it, mostly because I associated it with meditation and had a limiting belief that “I can’t meditate”. In the past 6 months, I have come to understand that there are many different kinds of meditation, and some work better for me than others. Also, I was under the impression that to meditate, I had to sit in stillness and if my mind wandered, I had somehow failed. I have since learned that this is not a failure.
In any case, I digress. Perhaps limiting beliefs and my journey with meditation may be a topic for another post, but today I wanted to talk about mindfulness, specifically. I believe that it is a practice that can be incorporated in minute doses into our every day lives – and in turn increase the joy we feel in the little moments of life.
In today’s world, I think most (if not all) of us are doing more than one thing at a time. For example, while I work on the computer, I have either music or (more likely) a podcast playing. Sure I am working, but part of my brain is engaged in listening to what is playing. When we eat dinner, a lot of us are sitting in front of the TV or looking at our phones. Think about it – be honest with yourself – when was the last time you were doing just one thing?
That, to me, is the biggest challenge. To truly savor what we are doing, in the moment, without getting distracted – by the ping of a notification or by our own inability to sit and focus. I have mentioned to quite a few people that I have been having problems with hobbies that use to bring me joy. I used to love reading. I used to have so much fun doing cross-stitch. Both (and probably more) I feel unable to do any more. And I have realized that the root cause of this is the inability to focus. So have I have been working on incorporating a few minutes of mindfulness every day.
“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness.”
~ Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School
Here are some ideas of how to incorporate moments of mindfulness into your day:
· Close your eyes when you take the first sip of your tea or coffee (or any other drink) and pay attention to how it tastes
· When you sit down to eat before you even take a bite – savour the smell of the food in front of you
· When you go for a walk, pick a colour and notice everything in that colour along your way – you’ll be surprised at what you see
· Touch a tree – close your eyes and really pay attention to the texture
· First thing in the morning, open your window and listen for the birds. Try and count how many different birds you hear
· Write 1 (or more things you are grateful for so far today – this could be done at any time (or multiple times during the day). Even if you write it first thing in the morning, I’m sure as you make this a practice you will find things to be grateful for. I would suggest adding as much detail as possible. So instead of “I am grateful for my dog” try “I am grateful for my dog because she snuggles up to me when I am feeling low and she ensures that I get outdoors every day”.
Do you have suggestions of other ways to incorporate mindfulness into your day? I would love to hear them – please leave a comment!