If you ask me to name one of the collective top wellness goals of 2017 aside from nutrition, I would answer mindfulness. Increasingly people are looking to bring an awareness to the present moment to bring a sense of calm and clarity to their lives. Auto-pilot is no longer a way of being.
While meditation in a quiet space is the best way to develop this skill, the end goal of it all, in my opinion at least, is to bring this awareness to everyday life and train the mind to come back to the present moment when it gets caught up in thoughts. Fortunately, everyday Life offer plenty of opportunities to practice mindfulness. Each ordinary event and chore bestows us with a moment of respite from our sometimes-chaotic train of thoughts. Below are my seven suggestions to incorporate mindfulness in everyday activities.
FREEBIE ALERT: For people who love checking off things from a list and feeling productive (I’m talking to you, Mr./Mrs. Type A personality!), I made a 31-days challenge worksheet that you can download here by signing up to my newsletter. Every day of the week, I suggest a mindful activity to complete in addition to a formal 5-minute sitting meditation session. Let me know on Facebook and Instagram how you feel after each week! 🙂
7 mindful activities
Raise your hand if you cannot remember what you ate 2 hours ago. I myself am guilty of spending my lunch hour at work shoving food into my mouth without really tasting my food (or even realizing what I’ve shoving into said mouth). Therefore, out of the 7 suggested ways to be mindful, I need to practice this one the most!
For one meal a day, concentrate solely on eating your food. No book, no cellphone, and definitely no Excel spread-sheet! Chew your food slowly. Take small bites. Smell the food. Admire the colours and textures. Let food linger in your mouth to taste the flavour and feel the texture. You really want to be consciously savouring this meal, even if it’s just overnight oats.
Mindful commute to work
Have you ever arrived to work and wondered how you got there?
Choose to do this exercise for your morning commute or your evening commute. Become aware of your surroundings and notice the trees, houses, and the buildings around you. If you drive, pay attention to your foot and the pressure you use against the pedal to accelerate or stop. Feel the stirring wheel between your hands. Carefully listen to what music is playing in the car.
Notice how you feel when there is traffic. Are you stressed, anxious or angry? If so, how is your body reacting? If you can, separate yourself from your thoughts and emotions and bring your attention to your breath. Traffic is not desirable, but being stuck in it doesn’t have to atuomatically put you in a frenzy.
If you take public transportation, pay attention to the people around you, and the different subway stations. What colors are the walls and the seats of each station? What makes them unique?
On your walk from the subway or the parking to work, notice the sounds around you, the sun against your skin, the buildings, and the people you cross paths with. You can even practice mindful walking on your way to the office (see next section).
It’s usually after leg day at the gym that I become hyper aware of how much I take walking with ease for granted. #sorefordays
Notice how your body moves when you walk. Notice how your feet touch the ground, how your legs lift and stretches with each step, how your hips sway and how your arms swing on the sides of your body. Pay attention to your weight shifting from one side to the other when you walk. Take note of how fast or slow you walk. Notice the sensations in your body (discomfort, fatigue, relax, etc.).
Think of the last time you had an engaging conversation. While I’m sure the fascinating topic contributed to this, I’m willing to bet the person you had this conversation with was a good and mindful listener.
Decide on a moment of the day when you will practice this exercise. Pay attention to the person talking to you. Notice their body language. Keep eye contact. Resist the urge to think of what you’ll reply to them while they are talking. Give them your full attention. This implies putting away the cell phone and stopping what you’re doing. If this is not possible, ask them to have this conversation another time if you cannot fully engage.
Whenever I see a commercial for a shower gel or a shampoo, I always feel like the person on the screen is having such a fantastic time. This is what mindful showering looks like to me.
Feel the water against your skin. Notice the temperature as it touches your skin and how it feels. Pay attention to the sound the water makes when it hits the curtains or tiles. Feel the soap bar or bath sponge against your skin and smell your bath products. Notice how it feels as your fingers massage your scalp as you wash your hair.
If you like, imagine you are “washing away” your worries or any tension in the body.
Practice this whenever you must wait (in line, at the restaurant, at the store). Notice how you feel when you see a long line up. How does your body react? Are you angry, annoyed? If you can, pull your attention away for your thoughts and emotions. Focus on your breath. Notice your surroundings. Practice compassion for the person who is making you wait.
Cleaning is one of those activities that I do not enjoy (thank goodness for my husband who acts like a part-time maid in our couple). I will usually put on a podcast to make the time past faster and to get my mind off the task at hand. However, when my friend told me she finds folding laundry therapeutic, I figured she might be on to something (or she’s simply a freak). So, I’m willing to challenge myself to be present while cleaning.
Pay attention to whatever your hands are doing. If you’re washing dishes, notice the temperature of the water, the texture of the plates, the motion of scrubbing. If you’re folding laundry, feel the different fabrics. While sweeping, notice the movement of your arms, the stretch and extension, and perhaps even an aching as time goes by.
With all seven activities, notice when your mind wanders off into thoughts. When this happens (and it will, trust me), take a deep breath to help you reset your mind and bring your attention back to what you were doing. While you may choose to be mindful all day, I suggest in the beginning choosing a moment of your day when you’ll complete the mindfulness activity.
If you do my 31-day mindfulness challenge, please keep me posted on your progress!
Much love and hugs,