My meditation practice is not very sturdy these days.
I moved into a new place and lost a lot of my grounding routines along the way. But now and again I manage to bring some mindfulness into my days, and that’s because I started to build up some habits in my everyday life that allowed me to be mindful.
When I feel mindful, I am more aware of what I’m doing. It’s like I’ve woken up, even though I’m technically still awake. When I get these mindful moments, I look through my eyes differently. I see things clearer, I feel what’s going on in my body, I’m aware of sounds and of sights around me. And for just a few moments, I feel like I am really living my life, and not just floating by it, even though that’s all I might be doing is putting on my socks. But that’s the great thing about small acts like putting on clothes, you do them everyday anyway, so they may as well be mindful.
So here are 5 simple ways to be mindful everyday. To start with, being mindful won’t come naturally, but because they all have triggers, you’ll be reminded to be mindful in those moments rather than randomly remembering them by chance.
1. Brushing your teeth. An everyday occurrence, hopefully, so why not really take a moment to come into your senses? If you bring some mindfulness into your teeth brushing routine in the morning, then it could have a mindfulness-domino effect through out your day. And you don’t have to just feel the sensation of the brush on your teeth, although you can, you can use the moment just to gather yourself. Stand in front of the sink, feel yourself standing there, even for just a moment. Just feel “Here I am, brushing my teeth” and that can be the tiny amount of mindfulness you need to bring to it to start building a positive habit.
2. The Clock. Use the hour chime of the clock to bring yourself to your breath. This could be every hour of the day, or an hour that you know is usually quiet, perhaps eleven o clock when it’s accepted to have a break in the office. Or 3.00pm before the kids are home from school. Use whichever designated time you’ve set aside, to take 5 mindful controlled breaths. That doesn’t sound a lot, but if you really control the breathing by pausing at the top of your inbreath and feeling full lungs, and breathe out slowly, pausing at the end of the outbreath and feeling empty lungs, then you’ll have a solid focus to bring you attention to. The five breaths can be as long or as short as you need them to be.
3. Same Spot Search. If you find yourself in the same spot every day, either waiting for the bus home, or standing by the window doing some washing up, then take the opportunity to bring mindfulness to your vision. For this mindfulness moment you’ll need to feel yourself in your body, take a moment, and then look at whatever static view is in front of you, as in, a view that isn’t traffic or people. Perhaps the roofs of buildings, fields and roads in the distance, or a little plant right next to the window. Whatever it is, your job just for a moment is to look at that spot and find something you haven’t seen there before. Search until you see something you didn’t even realize was there. I used to do this one as I waited for buses to work, I looked out at the houses and gardens in front of me, and every time I’d see something new. When you have that feeling of seeing something different in a familiar place, it has an automatic effect of making you feel more alert!
4. Commute Music. If you travel to work on public transport, an option here could be to have one song on your playlist that is a song for mindfulness. An instrumental, slow song without words works best. Bring your attention to yourself at the start of the song, get into your body and then let your awareness drift into your ears. Imagine you are a tiny version of yourself, sitting in your own ears. Like a guardian of the ear canal! Feel the music come into the ears. Come back to truly hearing the music if your mind wanders off. Keep the song short, about 2 or 3 minutes is plenty. Then carry on with your thoughts and enjoyment of your other songs when you’re done.
5. Bedtime. Ah, my favorite routine of the day! There are a number of mindful actions to do around this time. One is to cast your mind back over the day, and either mentally, or on paper, note what you were grateful for that day. Take a moment to mindfully feel the sensation of gratitude and appreciation grown in your body. Another very useful thing to do at this time is to create action triggers for the next day. An Action trigger is a mental walk through of things you want to do or achieve. When you visualize yourself doing them, it becomes much easier to do those things the next day. So take a moment to really see and feel yourself waking up early, or making a wholesome lunch for work that day or meditating!
Incorporating a meditation practice, which is an extended period of mindfulness, into your morning routine is a wonderful habit to cultivate. If you aren’t managing a meditation practice everyday, have a go of one or all of the above to feel the benefits that mindfulness can bring to your life.