Mindfulness. Whether you realize it or not, it’s something that you engage every day. You mind the time as you are getting ready in the morning (you don’t want to be late!), are mindful of the other drivers as you commute to work (nobody wants to get in an accident) and mind your kids as you try to throw dinner together (probably should’ve ordered pizza). These are all involuntary, unintentional examples. But what about intentional mindfulness, in the form of mindfulness meditation? The kind that involves specifically meditating on your thoughts or actions to bring inner peace and relaxation?
Mindful meditation is just that: being mindful. It is practiced by settling down in a calm environment, quieting your mind and focusing on your breath. During mindful meditation, you explore your mind and allow passing thoughts to drift by, not succumbing to distraction. This is much easier said than done, especially in our fast-paced world with unlimited distractions.
Eliminating distractions is difficult; most people can only manage to do so in small doses. There are few among us who can sit for minutes, even hours on end successfully practicing mindful meditation. Fortunately, you can easily center yourself and quiet your mind in as little as one minute.
Despite the limited time commitment, many believe that they can’t fit meditation into their life. They are wrong. Every day, we are presented with countless opportunities to practice mindfulness, and instead, choose to check our phones or complain about the traffic.
It’s time to make a change! Here are ten quick and easy steps to become more mindful.
1. Check-In With Yourself
When was the last time you took time for yourself? You probably don’t even remember. When you check in, you practice much-needed self-care by taking the time to consider your physical, emotional and mental well-being. This consideration is a form of mindful meditation. You can do this is the car, as you are taking a coffee break, or while waiting in line at the grocery store.
Start by taking a deep breath. Think about every part of your body. What sensations each part may be feeling and if there are any ways you can improve or savor those sensations. Perhaps you discover that you are hungry and want a snack? Maybe you realize that the tag of your shirt is itchy and you should cut it off. Whatever it may be, take the time to check-in with yourself, you may be surprised by what you learn and how easily you can increase your comfort.
2. Be Mindful About Your Music
US consumers spend an average of 24 hours per week listening to music. That applies to 91 percent of the population who reports listening to music on a regular basis. That’s an incredible amount of time spent on one activity. Granted, most people listen to music while doing other things, like riding in a car, working or exercising.
The next time you listen to music, you can easily practice mindful meditation, too! Reduce as many external distractions as possible, like your cell phone. Don’t skip around stations or songs, focus on listening to a single song from start to finish. As you listen, try to isolate the different sounds: the vocals, bass, guitar and drums. Notice any emotions that are evoked by the lyrics and explore the motivations for those emotions.
Listening to music is a simple thing, but when done mindfully, it can make a huge difference in your self-awareness and well-being.
3. Add Inspiration to the Unexpected
Life can be pretty dull if we allow it to be. We get in the car, we run an errand, we go online. Do these things inspire us? Not really.
But what if you conscientiously wove intentional, inspirational symbols into your routine? This could be anything from a charm on a keychain, a photo of a cherished loved one on your dashboard or creating a meaningful password for your email account.
When you see these things, you are triggered to become mindful and spend a moment meditating on that idea or person. You can take your daily routine from being just that – a routine – to being a journey into mindful meditation.
Interestingly, most of us were much better at this in our adolescence. As a means of expressing ourselves, we would decorate our lockers, scribble on our sneakers and hang posters on the wall; all of which would bring people, places and things to mind.
We’re not asking you to start bedazzling your notebooks, but maybe you add a post-it note to the fridge that has a favorite verse or saying written on it? Adding small cues to daily life will inspire you to practice mindful meditation on a regular basis.
4. Relax With Purpose
What do you do to relax? Read a good book? Sit outside and watch the sun go down (or come up)? Maybe you like to binge watch your favorite shows? Whatever you to do unwind, do it with purpose.
As you settle into whatever it is you do to unwind, rid yourself of distractions. Turn of your phone, put the kids to bed and get into a place where you can fully engage in what you’re doing. Think about how you feel in the moment. Explore your emotions and consider not only what you are feeling, but why. Fully immerse your senses to truly enjoy doing nothing.
This is difficult to do. It’s challenging enough to find time in the day to do something for yourself, let alone incorporate mindful meditation into the activity. When you do, you are not only giving your body and mind the break it needs, but you are feeding your soul.
5. Be Intentional About Your Routine
There are a few things we do every day. We brush our teeth, get dressed, make breakfast, etc. We do them the exact same way every day with little effort or thought put into it. Many of these tasks are as involuntary as breathing.
As you are preparing for the day, be mindful of every part of your body that is being used to complete a task. Think about how your arms move, how your mind processes and the outcome of your symphony of senses coming together to reach a common goal.
Take it a step further by using your non-dominant hand to do things like shaving, brushing your teeth, or curling your hair. In order to complete those tasks with your non-dominant hand, you must be extremely mindful of every step and intentional about the way you do it.
6. Create a Mindful Environment
The environments where you live, work and play can have a profound impact on your ability to be mindful. If any of these environments are messy, unorganized or just plain ugly, you will have a hard time enjoying the stress-reduction benefits of mindful meditation.
Take the time to make these environments comfortable and happy for you. Declutter, clean up and add some personal pieces that encourage mindfulness. Things like favorite books, family photos and religious icons are simple, inexpensive additions to your décor that will prompt you to engage in mindful meditation.
Also, consider adding art to places where you spend a great deal of time. According to researchers at the University of London, looking at art creates a surge of dopamine in the brain, evoking the same feeling as being in love.
7. Love Thyself
As the saying goes, “we are our own worst critics.” It’s absolutely true. We give those around us immeasurable grace but fail to extend the same courtesy to ourselves. Despite our best efforts to remain positive on the outside, the reality is that most of us are very negative about ourselves on the inside.
When you notice yourself doing this, take the time to be mindful and rid yourself of the negative thoughts. Acknowledge that what your doing is hurting you in the long run and know that almost every other person has the same struggle.
Dig deep and consider why you are so hard on yourself. Is it being caused by a past hurt, an insecurity, or a childhood wound? Whatever it is, shift your focus and mindfully meditate to foster more self-love.
8. Actively Listen
As our world becomes less and less personal, this skill becomes more and more important. Sure, you may have 500 Facebook “friends” but how many of those people would you call in an emergency or take on a vacation? The fact of the matter is that many of us – a third of Americans, in fact – are lonely. We have fewer and fewer face-to-face interactions and when we do, they lack quality.
Combat loneliness by bringing mindfulness to your next conversation. Listen to your companion with each of your senses. Resist the urge to think about what you want to say next and instead hang on their every word. Lean in, nod, make eye contact and don’t let distractions keep you from truly listening. Mindfully meditating on the conversation will help you become a better listener and friend.
9. Complain and Consider
Complaining, although considered negative by most, is actually a healthy expression of emotion. When you have strong feelings about something you want to vent about it; it’s a natural human response to adversity. Don’t judge yourself for being honest about your feelings (see Love Thyself). But do explore the cause of the complaint.
When you find yourself complaining, be mindful about the root cause of the issue. Is it that you have an inherent bias against the subject and no matter what they do, it will be met with your disapproval? Does the person or experience causing the complaint remind you of something negative in your past? No matter what the source may be, mindfully meditate to explore it and consider ways you can avoid having the same complaint in the future.
10. Slow Down
Everyone wants to go fast. It doesn’t matter if you are running 10 minutes early or five minutes late, even the slightest delay on the road can send an otherwise sane person into a road-raging tailspin. Why? Society pressures us to be first in everything, even first in a line of traffic. Don’t give into the pressure!
No matter what your destination, whether you are 10 minutes early or five minutes late, the outcome will be the same. It’s easy to let our blood pressure rise when we are in a rush and want to be on time. The reality is that our obsession with the clock is never worth the stress. The next time you feel the urge to rush, be mindful about what you are doing, where you are going and that you will get there, one way or another, whether you are early or late. Making a certain time is simply not worth the fuss.
Slow down, take a deep breath and rest easy in the calm of mindful meditation.
Everyone, no matter what their schedule can find time for mindful meditation. It’s easy if you have the right tools. Enjoy the benefits of mindfulness-based stress reduction by using these 10 quick tips to transform the way you see your world.
If you are already on the path toward mindfulness and would like to take it a step further, consider using a guided mindfulness meditation. Download Mindbliss meditation app to begin your journey.
We have a large and diverse range of 300 (and growing) quality meditations and are always hard at work curating the best ones for you. 🙂 We hope you love them. 💜
The Mindbliss Team.