Developing greater awareness is about so much more than sitting with our eyes closed once or twice a day. Sure, meditation is essential if we are to find stability in that awareness, but you will see (and feel) so much more if you can take some simple practical steps to integrating that quality of mindfulness into everyday life. Every single moment in the day is another opportunity to be present and aware. However, there are some activities which are better suited when learning. But rather than trying to do all of them at once, perhaps consider choosing just one to begin with and try to ensure that the new habit is really strong, before then adding a second one a week later. You can then just keep adding one more activity each week and before you know it, you’ll have markers throughout the day which will help to maintain that feeling of calm and clarity.
Here are a few of my favourites:
1. As soon as you wake up in the morning, rather than jumping out of bed, pause long enough for 3 whole breaths to pass quite naturally. It will only take a few seconds, but it will set the tone for the day ahead.
2. When you brush your teeth, make it an exercise in mindfulness. Rather than simply thinking about stuff, direct your attention to the physical sensations, the smells, the taste etc. In time it can feel like a mini-meditation.
3. Whether you drink tea, coffee or OJ in the morning, make it a ritual. Sit down with it, if only for the first few sips. Be aware of the smell, the taste, the temperature and everything else. Savour the moment and realise when the mind has wandered.
4. Stick a blank post-it note or something similar on the back of your front door, to remind you to be mindful as you walk after leaving. Sure, to begin with, it may only last 30 seconds or so, but with practise, it can be much longer. Remembering is the starting point.
5. Make the beginning and end of every journey another mindful moment. When you first get on, get in, sit down or whatever it is, be present for 3 breaths. Then repeat again, before you get up, get out or stand up. The natural beginning and end helps to jog the memory.
6. If you work at a desk, apply the same idea as travel. You don’t have to do it in a very obvious way, but just using that natural change in posture to trigger the memory to be present. Every time you sit down or stand up provides a lot of opportunities in the day.
7. If you are at home more often, then try experimenting with ‘opening and closing.' By this I mean every time you open or close a door, that becomes the trigger for mindfulness, of being aware and present. It’s surprisingly effective and relatively easy to do.
8. Every time you eat, there is the opportunity to remember to be present. So always pause before eating, just long enough for one whole breath, and then as you eat, use the taste, smell etc as the focus point for your attention. It makes the food taste better too.
9. Some people find that by putting a little sticker on the back of their phone, it helps to remind them to be present, when the mind is getting lost in thoughts and distractions.
10. Take a moment before going to bed to appreciate something good which has happened in the day. It may sound a bit cliche, but it feels really nice and immediately brings the mind into the present, even if we are thinking about something from the past.
Articles in this section
- What are some proven ways I can work to make Headspace a routine in my life?
- How can I remember to be mindful throughout the day?
- How does mindfulness meditation work?
- How can I take this calm feeling with me for the rest of the day?
- What are the scientific benefits of mindfulness meditation?
- Does it matter if I do shorter or longer sessions?
- According to the research, how long will it take to experience the benefits?
- Can I listen to less guided sessions?
- Is there research on the impact of online meditation programs like Headspace?
- What are the techniques?