So many of us live such a fast-paced life, we lurch from one activity to the next, never really pausing to noticing what’s happening for us in that present moment. As we grow older, the days, weeks and months pass us by so quickly and it’s only when we look back at the memories we’ve made that we truly realise just how quickly the time has gone by.
But the small things matter too. The everyday moments that take place; the laughter from our little ones, the smell of their clean hair when they’ve bathed, the kiss or touch from a loved one or the sound of song that makes you feel like dancing right there and then. All these experiences are momentus. The ordinary moments become extraordinary when we pay attention to them on purpose.
Mindfulness encourages us to focus on the here and now. It exposes us to the sensations that occur every day and it raises our awareness to the richness of the experiences we encounter. It helps to reduce our stress levels enabling us to let go of what we can’t control and focus on what we can by leaning into unpleasant experiences or sensations. It encourages us to find joy in the simplest of tasks and practice gratitude for the simple pleasures we have in life.
I’m always asked by others, ‘how do you bring mindfulness into play every day?’ I thought I’d share seven ways I do this on a daily basis;
- Practice 5 minutes of mindfulness every day – The key to a daily mindfulness practice is to start small. Try carving out five minutes a day to rest and relax and focus on nothing else apart from your breath. Set a timer so you’re not wondering how long you’ve been meditating for. When you’re ready, close your eyes or leave them open if you prefer, and focus on just breathing in and breathing out. Notice where you feel the breath within your body, through your nostrils, the back of your throat, in your chest or abdomen. Just breathe in and out and notice what you feel.
- Change the way you look at housework – We all have housework or chores to do and none of us like doing them as they seem like such a waste of time. But if you change the way you look at them then there can be big benefits. Since learning about mindfulness, I’m much more conscious what I’m doing. I focus my whole awareness on the task at hand. I notice the texture of the clothes I’m ironing or the way the fabric of the clothes smell when they’ve been freshly washed. When doing this, it enriches the experience. During the activity I practice gratitude – thanks that I’m well enough to take care of us all. I practice gratitude that this is our home and I feel a sense of fulfilment that this is where our family comes together.
- Focus on mindful listening – How many times have you had a conversation with a loved one and then never felt like you’ve actually been listened to? Lots of times, I expect. As humans, we’re hardwired to multi task and we find it hard to live in the present moment. But mindfulness teaches us to be as present as we can. When talking to others, I really focus on what someone is telling me and use my active listening skills to help me to do this.I try to do this with my children and I’m working with them to teach them to listen to others, to focus on what’s being said and not to interrupt with our own agenda. It’s a skill most adults haven’t even mastered, but it’s one that’s truly important as it enables others to feel valued and listened to.
- Stop multi tasking – I mentioned this one earlier. We often feel as though we’ve got so much to do that we struggle to focus on one thing at a time. It feels as though when we do more than one thing at a time that it saves time. That’s actually not true. Research has shown that we’re actually less effective in completing a task accurately when we multitask, because our consciousness and attention is divided. I have learnt through mindfulness that completing one task at a time has a profound effect on my productivity. When I pay attention to one task at a time, I can truly engage on what’s going on.
- Try mindful walking – Our bodies do amazing things for us every day, yet we fail to notice this and take so much for granted. By raising our awareness and paying attention to the way our bodies move when we walk, we can change the way we feel about our bodies. It enables us to observe the way we move, the way our legs and feet support us as we walk and it provides a sense of gratitude for our bodies, enabling us to treat them with kindness.
- And mindful eating – Eating is another thing we take for granted – it’s a means to an end for many of us. Some of us only eat to keep us going, while others pay attention to the food they eat and take pleasure in preparing and eating good, healthy and nutritious food. My relationship with food has evolved over the last few years and I’m more conscious of the food I put into my body and pay attention to the food and drink I consume. I’m more mindful about the way food affects my body and I try to make healthier choices. I notice the texture, the smells and the taste of food much more and I carve out time every day to eat mindfully. Eating together as a family is something I try to make sure we do every evening and this encourages connection between us all.
- Awareness of mind-chatter – This is something that can really affect us if we do not raise our awareness and pay attention to it. Mindfulness encourages awareness of our own thoughts, it encourages us to pay attention, on purpose to our thoughts. This enables us to be aware of what is taking up our attention and headspace. By observing our thoughts, we are able to let go of the ones that do not serve us well and hold onto the ones that do. This is the most important mindful habit I’ve adopted and one I think we should all master.
I really hope these mindfulness techniques enable you to slow down in daily life and raise your awareness to the task and things going on around you. Let me know how you get on with them and if I can help in anyway then let me know.
Love, Kelly xx