Most of us spend a lot of time not being very mindful; we will be going over things that have happened in the past in our minds and worrying about things in the future. Unfortunately this means we often miss out on fully experiencing the present moment. It can also cause us to experience stress, low mood and/or anxiety.
Think back to first thing this morning…when you were in the shower, were you really paying attention to this activity or were you planning the day ahead? When you drank your cup of tea or coffee, were you focusing on doing this or were you thinking about something completely different? When people think of mindfulness, they often imagine someone sitting in meditation. Whilst mindfulness can be practised in this way, it is also something that we can bring into routine activities in day to day life. Below are some ideas of ways to do this:
- Take a few moments to focus on your breath. Notice the slight stretching of the abdominal muscles on the in-breath and releasing on the out-breath. As best you can follow each in-breath all the way in and each out-breath all the way out. When the mind wanders, which it will naturally do from time to time, gently bring your focus back to the breath sensations without criticising yourself.
- When walking to places, be aware of the sensations in the soles of your feet making contact with the ground and the movement of your legs while the body is in motion.
- When drinking a hot beverage, notice the sensations of taste in your mouth and of heat as the liquid moves down through your throat. You could also pay attention to the sensations in your arm as you move the cup towards your mouth.
- When eating a meal, notice the sensations of salivation in your mouth as you see and can smell the food in front of you. Be aware of the texture of the food and fully experience the taste of each mouthful. You could also observe the movements of the mouth in chewing.
- When having a shower, pay attention to the sensations of the water on your skin: the temperature and the pressure. Notice the movements made by the body to wash.
- When talking to a friend, really listen to what they are saying without planning what you will say next or drifting into thinking about something else. Notice how you feel internally as they speak.
- Appreciate the little things. For example, notice the beauty of this season; the spring flowers, the various tones in their colours, the fresh breeze in your hair and the warmth of the sun on your face.
- When doing daily chores, give them your full attention. Really notice how your body feels as you’re carrying out the movements necessary to do them.
There is no need to do any of these activities slower than you usually would; the idea is simply to become more aware of what you’re doing as you are doing it.