Not only is the mind quick to wander, it LOVES to wander. It has no problem strolling down memory lane to relive past moments. It’s overjoyed at rushing ahead, trying to project our next step and what the future will look like. How can we slow down and stay present? The intentional practice of mindfulness.
In celebration of National Mindfulness Day, here are 5 tips to help you become more mindful in everyday life.
Start Your Day Technology Free - What is the first thing you do when you wake up? For a lot of us, it’s rolling over and turning off the alarm ringing from our smartphones. Once in hand, it’s easy to quickly check email, social media and trending news. But the stimuli and messages you take in early on can produce a negative impact on the rest of your day. Instead of losing yourself in the scroll, add a second alarm to your phone and proceed to only login to accounts once that second alarm has gone off. You’ll have to figure out what time works best for you but I bet you’ll be amazed at how much time expands when you’re not lost in a screen.
Write morning pages - With that precious new time, try dedicating a few minutes to morning pages. Morning Pages is a type of journaling practice introduced by author Julia Cameron. The technique is simple- write down three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness thoughts. I’ve been practicing Cameron’s method for years and found it keeps me mindful of areas I feel stuck, reminds me of all I have to be grateful for, and reduces the clutter in my brain. When I engage in this practice, my days feel full of clarity and attention.
Get moving (slowly) - When given the option of a powerful vinyasa class or a bootcamp class, which option do you choose? There is so much value in getting the heart rate up and the muscles working hard. Yet there is also extreme worth in choosing the slower class. Approaching the practice with an unhurried attitude means learning to stay in the moment and encourages mindfulness by tuning into sensations and emotions. Slow, mindful focused activities include; meditation, pilates and walking.
Practice One Task at a Time - We all want to be efficient and productive. But is multi-tasking really the way? Research tells us that multitasking is actually less productive than doing a single thing at a time. Research also notes that people who are regularly harassed with surges of information can’t pay attention, recall information, or switch tasks as well as those who complete one task at a time. In a nutshell, multi-tasking is the anti-mindfulness practice. Try this: Before beginning a task, allot a certain amount of time for it and set a timer. Don’t switch tasks before the timer is up and notice if you become more engaged and mindful for that one task.
Return to the Breath - Have you ever sped through your day, just to arrive home and say, “I was so busy today, I barely stopped to take a breath.” While breathing is an automatic process of the nervous system, we have the ability to consciously alter the rate and depth of breathing. Mindfulness of the breath can prevent stress, help manage anxiety, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and even spark brain growth. A basic breathing exercise to start with is Sama Vritti Pranayama. In sama vritti, or equal ratio breathing, the times of the inhalations and exhalations are the same. For example, inhale for 4 counts and exhale for 4 counts. You can adjust the number of counts based on comfortability.