Mindfulness is the mental state of being totally present and accepting of what’s happening right now, and let’s face it–we could all stand to be a little more mindful at work, in our relationships, with our health situations, and in all sorts of other important areas of our lives. But that’s easier said than done, right?
Practicing yoga certainly helps, but there are lots of other ways that we can help ourselves become more mindful people. The following technique is a good place to start for people with busy lives and racing minds. If you can make it into a habit, you’ll probably start to notice some good mental benefits–including enhanced focus, minimized distractibility and less anxiety.
Pick one mundane activity you do every day
Think about your daily routine and pick out something that you do every day without even thinking about it (that doesn’t include electronic devices). Ideally, it should be a morning task. It could be showering, brushing your teeth, getting dressed, putting on makeup or brewing a cup of coffee.
Choosing a morning task to serve as your mindfulness practice will help set the tone for the rest of your day, and it doesn’t have to be anything that takes longer than a few minutes to complete. It also doesn’t have to be anything complicated that has a lot of steps to it. In fact, the simpler and more mundane it is, the better.
Use a trigger to activate mindfulness
Once you’ve chosen a daily task you’re used to doing on autopilot, it’s time to pick an initial action to serve as your trigger. As an example, a trigger could be the simple act of picking up you toothbrush if the mindfulness activity you’ve chosen is brushing your teeth. Or if you’ve chosen showering, your trigger could be turning on the faucet.
Triggers help to remind us of our daily habits so we don’t forget to do them. After the first few times you pick up your toothbrush or turn on the hot water for a shower while consciously thinking about it as a trigger for the habitual activity you’ve attached to–in this case it’s practicing mindfulness–you should find that it becomes easier to remember to practice your mindfulness habit every time you pull the trigger.
Let your mind explore every moment through your senses
So you’ve started brushing your teeth, or washing your hair in the shower, or doing whatever it is you need to do for your brief mindfulness practice. Now you can let your mind wander around every experience you’re seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting. Place your awareness on different aspects of the task and accept it as it is, without passing any judgment on it.
If you’re brushing your teeth, you might want to place your awareness on the wetness of your saliva and the bubbly suds of the toothpaste. The feeling of the bristles of the toothbrush along your gum line. The sound of the brushing. The smell and taste of the toothpaste. If you find yourself getting sucked into focusing on thoughts running in your head, that’s okay–just acknowledge that you went away for a bit, let the thought pass and bring yourself back to the present.
That’s it! That’s all you have to do. For people who aren’t used to being so mindful, it’s much more practical to focus on short bursts of mindfulness of just a few minutes rather than long sessions. Start with one mundane task, and once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you can perhaps try adding another.