Mindfulness is a practice that has occurred for centuries, but has more recently become a buzzword in our modern culture. In our culture of constant access to information and communication, where we feel the need to be available to others at a moments notice, it is no wonder many are attracted to the concept of clearing our minds of the overstimulation we experience.
However, it can also feel overwhelming, especially at first, to try to quiet our minds. Some new to mindfulness picture sitting in a secluded location and meditating in complete silence. While this is definitely helpful, it is not for everyone. Some feel overwhelmed initially by the idea of silence, and some feel they do not have time to engage in mediation.
Meditation is under the umbrella of ways to be mindful, and there are ways to meditate without attempting to start in complete silence. Remember that the core purpose of mindfulness is to be in the present moment. Below I’ve added tips to practice mindfulness at any time, whether you are on the go or short on available time.
Complete a Daily Task Mindfully
We all have tasks we need to complete on a daily basis, such as household chores. Sometimes we end up rushing through these tasks with the next task in mind. Next time, try to focus solely on the task you are working on at the time. Doing the dishes? Notice how the dish feels in your hand, the water on your skin. Sweeping the floor? Notice the broom in your hand and the sound of the bristles moving against the floor. These tasks need to be done anyway, so it’s a good time to practice mindfulness.
Similar to daily tasks, eating is a very enjoyable way to practice mindfulness. Sometimes we rush through meals to get to our next task for the day. Next time you eat a meal, try to focus on what you are eating, one bite at a time. What does the food look like? Notice the smell. What is the texture? How does your food taste? Especially for one of your favorite foods, it is definitely worth taking the time to enjoy what you are eating.
Focus on Your Five Senses
This one is easy to do anywhere. Stop what you are doing for a moment. Pay attention to the present moment using your five senses. What do you see? What do you hear? Are there any distinct smells? If you have a drink, food, or gum, how does it taste? What do you feel physically (such as the clothes on your body, a nearby surface, an item near you)? When you are finished, notice how you feel in this present moment.
Use Guided Meditation Recordings/Videos
If you are new to meditation, or just struggle with the ability to meditate without assistance, guided meditation is a great way to start. Fortunately, YouTube has an array of guided meditation you may use for free. You can choose to search for “guided meditation for beginners (or anxiety, depression, self-love, whatever you think you need!)” and find several videos of varying times, from approximately 3 minutes to several hours for use while sleeping. There are also several apps for smartphones* available which also provide guided meditation. Here are a few beginner guided meditation videos:
For some of us in our heavily scheduled and busy lives, we know how to be mindful but don’t take the time to be mindful. Find a small token to carry with you that will help you remember to be mindful, such as a piece of jewelry, stone, or keychain. Thanks to the advent of smartphones*, there are now several apps available which provide reminders to be mindful as well, such as Insight Timer.
Hopefully these methods assist you in increasing your practice of mindfulness and obtain the benefits of being able to be present in your daily life.
*Note on use of smartphones: One of the benefits of mindfulness is to avoid distractions, thus some avoid use of smartphones in their mindfulness practice entirely. However, smartphones can be a useful tool, especially for those who use their smartphones frequently. If you choose to use your smartphone in your mindfulness practice, such as a guided meditation app, try to set your phone on silent, start the app, and avoid looking at your phone while you listen. Or, if you notice you receive a reminder to be mindful, note it and then avoid looking at your phone further until your practice is completed. If you find yourself easily distracted during practice with use of your phone, you may want to consider the others methods mentioned here.