Simple Steps To Begin A Mindfulness Practice
So what's all the 'hype' about mindfulness? What is it exactly? I like to keep things simple, so my definition of mindfulness is simply what it sounds like: it's a mindset practice...it's learning to be aware of your mind, what your mind regularly observes and how your mind tends to interpret what it's witnessing. To build your mindfulness muscle, like any other skill, you've got to repeat the process regularly...that's also how you truly experience the array of benefits.
Mindfulness is less about your location or your surroundings, being alone or in a crowd. But it can be helpful to prepare your environment and monitor your connections, if this is something that will be new to you.
Mindfulness can be cultivated in a variety of simple steps that anyone can use daily to make a difference in their life. Here’s a list for you to familiarize yourself with if you are interested in living a more mindful lifestyle:
- EATING: Something none of us can live without…food. Take the time to eat slowly and chew with intention. Savor the flavors and try to fully experience the textures of food in your mouth. Listen to the body tell you when it is full.
- BODY: We all have one, but can stand to improve our connection with it better. Yes, our bodies. Try to experience how you feel within your body in the present moment. Really connect with the physical sensations of your body by noticing the energy, the movement that is ongoing within…there are important messages your body will send to you, but you have to practice being mindful to be receptive.
- TASK AT HAND: You have overwhelming access to connectivity – the whole internet’s 2 billion voices are not just in your pockets, but on your wrists and now on your face! To truly live a more mindful life, consider focusing fully on whatever task is in front of you. Turn off any distractions that are likely to take you away from your intended focus
- BREATHE: Have you ever been tense, wound up, or overwhelmed? Of course, you have…we all have at some point. When you notice these or any other related emotional energy creep up on you, pay attention to your breathing. Be intentional about noting events, people, and environments that promote feelings of relaxation, being worked up, restlessness, nervous and so on. This isn’t about judging the circumstances or feeling guilty for letting outside influences sway your mood. Just observe and simply bring your attention to your breath in that moment.
- SENSE IT: Being mindful helps sharpen your intuitive abilities. You have a stronger awareness of self and what’s going on with others as well as the world around you. Try to pay close attention – on a visceral level – to what is happening in your immediate vicinity. Can you now see things that you glossed over prior to your new mindful approach to life? Tune in to the sounds you hear, what energy do the sounds create for you? What smells are present in the air? How does the temperature feel against your body? Sense it all. Just come back to what is happening around you now.
- HEAR ME OUT: Be in the moment with those that matter most to you. Learn to practice active listening. With full attention, engage in a conversation by listening carefully to your partner, child, friend coworker or the stranger in the Whole Foods line. Listening is a genuine way to nurture existing relationships and a path to cultivating new, authentic connections as well. Notice when you are distracted while conversing with someone either by trying to formulate a response or tuning out completely. Gently bring your attention back to the conversation – and be honest, ask if you need them to repeat themselves. No judgement, compassion only.
- WALK IT OUT: Whether you’re on a lunchbreak stroll, perusing the grocery store isles, or headed to a job interview, take note of the sensation of walking. Monitor each of your steps as you walk. If time does permit (and it should if you choose to allow it), simply slow down and pay attention to each of your feet touching the ground as you move about your daily activities.
- REMINDER: You can use any other reminders that are a part of your routine to maintain your new mindful lifestyle. If you’re stopped at a traffic light, use that as an opportunity to check in with yourself – your body, breathing, etc. – and the environment around you. If you’re making a home cooked meal, take note of the smells, textures, sounds, the colors and all that you can observe about the foods you’re preparing.
If you already have a routine that works for you, share in the comments why you started and what you do to keep up the momentum of your mindfulness practice. New to the world of mindfulness? Use these simple steps to begin a mindfulness practice today...or you can sign up for BE MNDFL, my free, 10-day guided mindfulness experience.
Achieving results of a mindfulness practice comes with a regular routine and patience, so cheers to your new beginning. Sending peace and stillness your way.