How to Practice Mindfulness: 7 Easy Ways to Be More Present in Life
Updated: Oct 30, 2022
If you are looking to join the craze of mindfulness but are left feeling stuck on where to start, then keep reading as we will cover a variety of simple mindfulness activities that you can practice today without any fancy gadgets or lengthy time commitments.
What is Mindfulness?
In brief, Mindfulness is the ability to be fully aware of and connected to the present moment. It is a skill that requires us to be intentional in where we focus our attention and it allows us to get the most out of our present experiences.
When we are in a mindful state, we are open to whatever internal (e.g., thoughts, feelings, physical sensations) and external experiences pass us and we meet those experiences with acceptance and compassion. To be mindful, in essence, means to be present without trying to change or react to our current experiences. To learn more about mindfulness, check out our article that delves into mindfulness and how you can benefit from it.
7 Practical Ways To Be More Mindful
You can essentially practice mindfulness in an infinite number of ways because anything can be done mindfully (i.e., with purposeful intentions, focused attention, and a welcoming attitude). That said, here are the seven doable strategies that you can do to help you cultivate mindfulness and start being more present in your life:
1. Eat Mindfully
Are you guilty of mindlessly watching TV while eating your meals or scrolling through your social media platforms? I know I am! Whether it is because of boredom or being pressed for time, most people don't really eat with intention or pay much attention. Next time you are tempted to scarf down your dinner, try slowing down and taking moments to really savour the flavours. Or, jazz it up a notch and treat yourself to your favourite snack and eat that with full awareness. Do you notice any different textures or flavours? Is it salty or sweet? Soft or crunchy? Notice the aromas, tastes, and textures as you enjoy a meal.
2. Observe Your Thoughts
Our minds are a pretty wild place to be sometimes...there is so much information swirling around in there at any given time that it can be a lot to take in, especially when we are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed. Try taking some time, perhaps when your mind is relatively quiet (at least at the beginning of your mindfulness journey), to see what pops up. You can do this exercise formally by setting a timer for a few minutes. It is natural for our minds to wander so just go with the flow and see where the moment takes your mind; observe any passing thoughts without judgement and do not try to control or push them away.
3. Go On A Mindful Walk
Spending time in nature is good for anyone and is even a way for some to tap into their spiritual side. Whether you go out for a walk around the block or on a scenic hike, you can practice mindfulness by paying attention to your body movements, physical sensations, and the beautiful world before you. Is the ground hard or uneven? Notice what it feels like as your feet hit the ground. Is the air cool or muggy? Are you breathing fast or calmly? Is your heart rate elevated or are you starting to sweat slightly? What do you hear around you? Notice your posture as you move and pacing.
4. Notice Your Breath
Similar to the observing your thoughts practice, you can simply engage in mindfulness by just bringing attention to your breath at any given moment. You can do this formally through a guided meditation (try Insight Timer or Headspace app) or setting a timer, or informally by pausing throughout your day to connect with your breath and notice each inhale and exhale. Learning to be more aware of your breath can help you regulate and relax your body to help alleviate stress, tension, and anxiety.
5. Physical Movement
Through various forms of physical activity, such as yoga, stretching, or your regular workout, you can incorporate mindfulness practice by fully attending to the connection between your mind and body. Don't just flail around or robotically engage in the motions, actually take the conscious effort to intentionally move your body and feel each muscle fibre contract and release. You might even find that your workouts are much more effective and fulfilling!
6. Brushing Your Teeth
Yep, you read it right- brushing your teeth can be a way to practically incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine! Really any mundane or routine task can be turned into a mindfulness exercise. It is actually one of the first types of mindfulness exercises I recommend because it is something we all do on a daily basis and is therefore boring and subject to us "zoning out" (aka not being mindful), which makes it the perfect target to challenge our ability to remain present-minded during the dullest of tasks.
7. Actively Listen
Have you ever been trying to have a conversation with someone but your mind is preoccupied with other things? Maybe you are feeling self-conscious and are worried about saying something silly or are mentally going over all of the things you need to get done once the conversation is over. We've all been there, but being checked-out during conversations can have its consequences and ultimately prevents us from forming meaningful and fulfilling relationships. Practice listening deeply and openly without acting on any urges to interrupt or give advice. Really soak it in and try to fully understand what the other person is trying to tell you.
Pro Tip: With any mindfulness activity, try to pay attention to any or all of your 5 senses to really immerse yourself into the moment. Notice any smells, textures, sounds, tastes and visual qualities of your surroundings.
The Bottom Line
Mindfulness doesn't have to be some elaborate practice that takes a long time to complete. You can turn any activity that you do each day into a mindfulness practice so long as you are being intentional with your efforts and purposely paying attention to the present moment. It is really that easy- there is no extra time required in your day to start living more mindfully and getting the most out of life through these simple mindfulness practices.
Remember, your mind will wander and that is perfectly normal and to be expected. Just like any other skill that takes time to develop, mindfulness requires consistent practice (and patience!) to master. If you have thoughts like "I'm not doing this right", you are not alone. Mindfulness is tough. Notice that your mind has wandered, observe any thoughts without judgement (i.e., don't beat yourself up over losing focus), and bring your attention back to the task at hand with a grounding breath. If you have to do this 100 times during an activity, don't be discouraged- that is 100 opportunities for you to practice mindfulness and be present in your life!
Looking to learn more about how to get the most out of mindfulness meditation? Get in touch with us today to speak to a counsellor who can help you use mindfulness to reduce anxiety, cope with stress, improve your mood, and regulate your emotions.