Often when we think of mindfulness, we think of meditating. But being mindful extends to much more than meditating. Mindfulness involves being in the present in many aspects of our life.
It is quite easy to be caught up in worrying about the future or over-analyzing the past. Especially in times of uncertainty, we can spend way too much time thinking about the future. And in that, we lose our time in the present.
While I’m not saying that you should never think of the future. There is a difference between planning for and being mindful of the future vs. constantly obsessing about what may or may not happen.
We need to have balance in all areas of our life – and our thought patterns are one of those places. By practicing mindfulness in daily activities, we can keep a focus on what is happening right now. Focusing on the present lets you appreciate where you are in that moment.
Practicing Daily Mindfulness
Here are 5 places you can practice mindfulness in your daily life…
The benefits of mindful eating are so much more than just being in the present moment. It’s also a fantastic way to improve your digestion and overall health & wellbeing!
So often we are eating quickly, eating on the go, or eating as we stand at the counter. None of these options allow for us to be enjoying our food or properly digesting it. In fact, this one aspect of nutrition is often overlooked when it comes to improving health, nutrition, and digestion.
In order for your body to digest food well and make the most of those nutrients, it needs to be in a parasympathetic state. This means you are relaxed and ready to digest. It should be obvious that eating quickly or as we run from place to place is not a relaxed state! Because of this, our digestion does not work optimally and we experience gas/bloating/indigestion along with a poor breakdown of food which can lead to other digestive health issues.
So how do we mindfully eat? First start by taking the time to sit down to eat. Take a moment to take a big breath, say a prayer, and come to a rested state before you begin. Eat without distractions. Put away your phone, computer, and work. Focus on the food you’re eating, the people you’re with, and the environment you are in. Take the time to enjoy your food. Think about the flavors & textures. Chew a lot & don’t rush (try for 10-20 chews at least per bite). This helps break down food more for better digestion.
Whether you work from home or in an office (or usually in an office but currently at home), it is so easy to get distracted or work on multiple things at a time. While sometimes this is necessary depending on the line of work, this rarely leads to the productivity we imagine. I recently wrote about why you should ditch multitasking. The benefits generally do not outweigh the negatives that come from it.
To do your best work, bring your focus to the task at hand. Silence your phone and close your email program. Give undivided attention to the project you are working on. I have been amazed at the difference I see in my productivity when I do this.
3. Family Time
Most of us do the things we do to support and care for our family. We work to provide for them. We cook and clean to take care of them and the home we share. So when it comes to spending time with those we love, why are we so often pulled away by checking that message we received, replying to an email quick, or scrolling through social media?
Whether you are spending time with your spouse, kids, or friends, the time you spend together will be the most enjoyable when we are focused on the people we are with and what we are doing together. I’m sure you’ve spent time with people who seem so distracted by their phones. They are constantly checking that new message received or glancing at it again and again as you talk. Maybe you’ve been that person. I think we all have at some point. But I challenge you to break this cycle. Silence your phone or leave it in another room when you spend time with those loved ones. Set aside time to do things together and be in that moment.
Mindful walking isn’t something you need to do every time you walk. I love to listen to a great podcast when I walk! But sometimes when our minds have been busy all day, it’s so lovely to take 15-20 min to have a relaxing, mindful walk.
When you walk mindfully (which can also be called walking meditation), you focus on your breath. The goal isn’t to have fast nor a super slow pace. Just what feels comfortable without heavy breathing. Focus on the nature around you. Focus on your breath. Focus on how your heel hits the ground and your foot rolls up to your toes as you take a step. Be mindful of the walking activities and release any other thoughts.
Walking meditation can be a great way to practice meditation if you don’t like doing traditional sitting meditation. You get the same great benefits of a clear, focused mind but while moving.
5. Everyday Activities
Mindfulness can be extended to just about any daily activity. You can mindfully wash the dishes by focusing on what you are washing, feeling the temperature of the water, the look of the items, or the scent of the dish soap.
Mindful driving is something we could all likely benefit from, too. How often do you drive that work commute and end up 5 miles down the road, yet not remembering that last 5 miles? Keeping a keen focus on what is going on around you keeps you focused and alert.
Everything from gardening to cleaning to helping kids with schoolwork can be done with a mindful focus on being in the moment and not letting ourselves be distracted. Observe what you are doing. Focus on the sights, smells, feel, and sounds.
How Can You Be More Mindful Today?
It’s probably unrealistic to expect yourself to be mindful 100% of the time. The human mind just doesn’t work like that. But by working to incorporate more mindfulness every day, we can train our minds to keep better focus and spend more time in the present. Daily meditation practice – either through something like mindful walking or a traditional meditation – can enhance this even more.
What will you work to be more mindful on today?