Mindfulness. It’s a relatively new term, at least to the masses. We hear it used often, but how many of us actually know what it means or how to practice it? I first associated the word with meditation, which in a way, the two share similarities, but I had tried meditating in the past and, for the record, epically failed. If you’re anything like me, it’s probably near impossible to turn off your thoughts. Sitting down to meditate only means more free time to think things like, “okay so what can I grab quick for dinner between the gym and my appointment” or “how fast do you think I’ll have to drive to get home, change and get back out again,” or my favorite “I JUST DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TIME. LET’S JUST PANIC AND STRESS OUT INSTEAD.”
And now, amidst the holiday hustle and bustle, marketed as the “most wonderful time of the year” (aka a bunch of stressed out shoppers cutting ea other off in traffic, fighting ea other for the last board game on the shelf, cursing and crying to make every last detail perfect), practicing mindfulness on a daily basis is more important than ever.
Anyway, mindfulness, to me, is a bit more accessible than meditation for the average joe. According to Jessica Bruneau of Mindful Yoga, you can think of mindfulness as “awareness, focusing on the present moment, or observing what is happening right now.” You know when people say live in the moment? That’s mindfulness.
Until you start to think about it, you might not notice how often your brain is actually in the past or the future, instead of on what you’re doing right this moment.
Yeah, guilty 🙋🏼♀️
So how can we change this? It may seem daunting, as changing habits can often be, but it’s actually pretty easy to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life once you come to an agreement with yourself that you’re going to give it an honest try. If I can do it, you can do it. (And FYI, I’ve tried it, because who would I be if I told y’all to do something I’ve never tried myself)
Here are 5 small ways you can try to be a bit more mindful during your day!
- Be present during those daily, routine tasks
When you’re doing the dishes, brushing your teeth, (yes, even) using the bathroom, instead of watching TV or trying to multitask, try to be present in the activity you’re doing. Notice things like the temperature of the water, how the sponge feels in your hand, your posture, your breath. You don’t have to judge any of it, just notice it. Actually b e there.
- Put your phone down
You had to know this one was coming, but this doesn’t mean all the time. Next time you‘re with another human being, put the phone away and be 100% in that conversation. For coffee, dinner, whatever it is, be there and see that person. Notice what they’re wearing, how they sit, how they speak, what they are saying, what they mean. Actually look them in the face and hear what they’re not saying out loud. You’ll be surprised how much this helps not just yourself but your relationships as well – people appreciate when they’re appreciated. Life lesson there folks 😉
- Use a reminder
Find something to use as a signal to yourself to come back into the present moment. This might be an essential oil you diffuse, a piece of jewelry, or the wallpaper on your phone. When you see or smell or feel or hear your reminder, just pause for a second to feel your feet connect to the floor, feel your chest/stomach rise and fall with each breath. Use this as a way to take a pause often throughout the day.
- Try a body scan
You can find one to read or listen to (lots of great podcasts out there!) and eventually you’ll be able to talk your way through it on your own. This helps you to be present in your own body, s l o w down your mind, and be in the moment. Honestly, these work best for me on particularly stressful days right before I’m about to fall asleep. When a million and one thoughts are floating around my head, a body scan usually does the trick. You simply notice each part of your body, one at a time, without moving it or evaluating it. Jess Bruneau recommends starting right hand thumb, first finger, second finger, third finger, fourth finger, palm of the hand, back of the hand… etc. etc., you get the idea.
- Practice gratitude in the moment
I think we all know that practicing gratitude is so important, but sometimes it’s easier said than done. Usually gratitude hits me like a freight train- completely out of nowhere I’ll see or hear something that reminds me of just how truly blessed I am. It could be someone standing at the bus stop on the side of the road, and I say a quick thank you for owning a car instead of bitching about the monthly payments. Stressed at work? Thankful to have a job and the means to do my work well. Turning those negatives into positives really helps me. Leaving the gym tired and sore, stay thankful for the health that gives me the ability to work out. Thankful for the endorphin high that will carry me the rest of the day. Recognizing these moments and placing them with emotions of gratitude is huge, instead of carrying on with your day without more than a second thought. Jess B says, “I started practicing gratitude in the moment, by saying “Thank you, more please” every time I experience something good. Great parking spot, thank you, more please. Run into a friend, thank you, more please. Get paid, thank you, more please. The more you do this, the more you will notice to be grateful for. You’ll be able to live in and be thankful for each moment.”
Mindful Yoga Studio, located in Fayetteville, NY, offers a place where everyone can come, slow down, feel safe and feel connected – offering the perfect escape for any of you looking to incorporate more mindfulness into your life (maybe a new years resolution??) Opened by Heather McClelland almost a year ago, you can find classes for all Yogis, including beginners! Check out the full schedule, pricing and other details by visiting the link above.
***A very special thank you to Jessica for her help on this blog!