Imagine a world where everyone is mindful of themselves and each other. There’d be less distraction, less agitation, more connection to nature, and more peace.
Studies have shown that a mindfulness practice helps relieve stress, calm the mind, improve mental and physical well-being, and increase productivity at work.
But what is mindfulness, and why does it seem so difficult to achieve?
Awareness in the Present Moment
Mindfulness is a state of being fully aware in the present moment—not only of your surrounding, but also your feelings, thoughts, and physical sensations.
Closely associated with mindfulness is meditation, which is only one of the practices we can do to cultivate mindfulness. But we don’t necessarily have to sit still in meditation for a certain period of time to practice mindfulness.
In the Taoist tradition, anything you do with intention and consciousness can be meditative. Here are three easy ways to practice mindfulness in your daily life.
1. Find Stillness in Movement
Before we can find stillness in the mind, we must get in tune with the physical body first. This is how Yoga helps in opening the pathway to mindfulness.
Yoga itself is a meditation in movement when you’re aware of every sensation in the body. Hold your poses longer to connect deeper to the breath, which also challenges the mind and strengthens the body at the same time.
Take a leisurely walk in nature, get quiet, and notice the beauty around you. Like nature, music also has a way of silencing the mind.
Dance is a particularly effective movement therapy that uses the mind, body, and music to snap us into awareness. Just try a dance class—nothing brings your mind faster into the present moment than when you’re trying to get your body to move to the rhythm.
2. Listen More, Talk Less
Mindfulness comes not only from our attitude and actions, but also from our interactions with loved ones, especially those in need of healing.
Practice holding space: give your whole attention and listen to what a loved one needs to say without judging. Rather than offering advice, just be a comforting presence, and allow truth to unfold naturally.
Stay off your electronics when you’re having one-on-one conversations. In today’s world, we may be more connected than ever to friends and family digitally, but these modern conveniences can also make us less mindful in our daily interactions with others.
3. Slow Down
Instead of rushing through the day on auto-pilot, turn your daily activities into meditative rituals. Enjoy the little things that you do, from drinking your morning tea (or coffee) and cooking your favorite breakfast to dressing up for the day.
Take pleasure in every bite of your meals. Even mundane chores like driving in traffic, ironing, and cleaning up can be an exercise in mindfulness.
Focus your whole attention on the task, notice the small details, and observe your thoughts and feelings. The busier you are, the more you need to slow down to cultivate awareness.
Let the practice of mindfulness be a natural part of your daily habits instead of a technique to master. Beauty, grace, gratitude, and inner peace come easily when we live in the moment.