Most of us have heard about the importance of being in the present moment, fully enjoying our lives and whatever it is we are doing at this very moment. There is no value or benefit in ruminating over the past or worrying about the future. The only time we have is now. However, our busy ego minds often don’t let us be fully present in the NOW.
We spend much of our lives thinking about the past or fretting about the future. We do this far too often. So how can we practice living in the now? Mindfulness is a useful way to practice enjoying the present moment.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness involves paying attention on purpose. It is a conscious direction of our awareness – putting our focus on whatever it is we are doing in the moment. Mindfulness and awareness are two different things. I am aware I am hungry right now, but I am not really being mindful of it. In order to be truly mindful, I would have to focus on my hunger.
Too vague for you? Here’s another example: I may know I am eating but that doesn’t mean I am mindfully eating. I’m likely not paying attention to my food, the way I’m eating or even the way it tastes sometimes with my mind buzzing a mile a minute.
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
Mindfulness makes us feel better! It:
- Induces a feeling of calm and relaxation (most of the time)
- Blood pressure drops
- Heart rate slows
- Reduces stress level hormones
5 ways to practice mindfulness
- Practice conscious breathing when standing in line at the grocery store (or anywhere, for that matter). Focus on each breath. Yep, you can even meditate while standing in line! Sometimes this is beneficial (especially to someone who is impatient) so you’re not cursing the ‘slow cashier’ or the guy who clearly has more than 10 items but went into the “10 items or less” line.
- Focus at mealtime. Instead of watching TV or scarfing down your food in front of the computer, sit down and be mindful of what you’re eating. Chew slowly. Think about the different tastes, smells and sensations.
- Bonus: Researchers have discovered that mindful eating results in eating less because you are savoring the food, being aware of how much you are eating and when you become full.
- Go for a nice, quiet walk. Many of us are so busy rushing from point A to point B that we rarely take the time to observe what’s going on around us. Go for a mindful walk from time to time. Walk at a slower pace than you usually would. The Fall season is beautiful in most areas of the country and the scent of Fall in the air is rejuvenating and purifying.
- Mind your fingers while you’re typing. If you’re like me, you type so quickly that you don’t really focus on what you’re doing. Now that I’m being mindful as I type this, I am taking note of how the keyboard feels under my fingers. I’m being mindful of how quickly my fingers move and it’s actually slowing me down a bit, but in a good way. I’m being more thoughtful of what I type.
- Mix it up. If you have a routine you stick to when you are getting ready in the mornings (or whatever it may be) mix up the routine! Put your left shoe on first instead of your right one. Make your breakfast last instead of first. Just mix up your routine. You’ll be more mindful of your actions if you’re not doing the same ‘ol, same ‘ol every day.
Have any mindfulness tips to share? Do it here!