Mindfulness. Every new-agey blog and wannabe guru talks endlessly about mindfulness and it’s utmost importance. But honestly, who can really define it? Google can! Check it out:
Great. Read the definition… but what does it mean. Honestly, When it comes down to it, it’s just about reminding yourself (all the damn time) to stay present. Not looking back with nostalgia or looking forward with apprehension. But rather, paying attention to the details of the day. Tackling today’s to-do list. Appreciating where your relationships are in this very moment. Stopping to smell the roses, so to speak. I know, easier said than done. But with a few small alterations, you can start training your brain. Here are a few changes you can make to your daily routine to start leading a more mindful life.
No phone or TV while you eat
Growing up, did your parents force you to sit at the table and have family dinner every night when all you wanted to do was take your plate to your room and watch a movie? Well, I hate to tell you that your mom was right… but your mom was right. When we watch TV or scroll social media while we munch, we tend to miss the cues that our body is full, leading to overeating. It also means that you aren’t really paying attention to what you’re eating. Giving your full attention to the tastes and textures of your food while you chew keeps you present and much more grateful for all the people who made your meal possible (from farmers, to transporters and beyond!!)
Keep a gratitude journal
Some people think this sounds kind of lame and overused. But a harvard study showed that people who practiced gratitude were happier, exercised more and had fewer trips to the doctor. Maybe you don’t think it’s lame, but you have trouble remembering to keep up a journal when life gets busy. Me too. So try the Gratitude app! Everyday you get a notification on your phone inviting you to log on. Each day, for 30 days, the app offers a small snippet of something you can focus your gratitude on. At the end it prompts you to write what you are grateful for, then logs it in a digital journal for you so you can reference back any time.
Deeeeeeep breath in…. Deeeeeep breath out. Five minutes of that and, I swear, it’s the best head high around. It connects you to your body and inherently brings you repeatedly back to the now. If you focus on the in and the out, it also helps to quiet your mind and keep it from running off. Hey! That sounds a lot like meditation.
Do your chores
When I was living in Thailand I stayed in a buddhist monastery in the mountains of Mae Hong Son. Our very strictly regimented day revolved entirely on mindfulness and meditation. Every moment there was meant to be lived with intention and awareness. The schedule looked something like this:
0500: Wake up, meditate in your room.
0630: Offering of food to the monks
0800 Morning meditation
1030: Offering of food to the monks
1100: Lunch (this would be our last meal of the day)
1300 Afternoon meditation
1700: Free Hour
1800: Evening meditation
2000: Mediate in your room
2200: Lights out
From 4-5, everyday, we did chores. But the intention was to do all of it with mindfulness. We were to throw ourselves into our tasks with our allness. If you were chopping food for the coy fish, your whole mind was consumed with the chopping. If you were raking leaves, same thing. Whether you’re washing the dishes, scrubbing the floor, or folding the laundry, there’s no arguing that focusing on the task at hand will ensure a job well done. Of course, rushing through may not give the same satisfaction. That means that at the end, there is physical proof that your mindfulness and attention are effective and beneficial to you and the world around you.