As a teacher of meditation and mindfulness, I am seeing more and more that any moments of awareness we can give ourselves during the day can be powerful and redirect us to a less stressed and more connected place. This can happen whether you commit to a sit down session of mindful breathing OR simply take a minute to notice what is around you with purpose and clarity. Big steps or small steps; they are all steps.
So, here are five easy ideas to bring some mindfulness to you asap:
1. Today, stop three to five times (increase as you wish) and bring complete awareness to your body and thoughts. Wherever you are, take a deep breath. If you can close your eyes, do so and pull everything inward. Then, open your eyes and reconnect outward. A couple of seconds is all you need. As you are doing this ask yourself: How is my body feeling? Am I tense anywhere? If so, can I relax? What is my mind doing? Is it calm, stressed, whirling? Am I in the moment or somewhere else? What this quick exercise does: allows you to connect with yourself, check in and greet the present. It increases body awareness, mind awareness and environmental awareness.
2. At any moment during the day, stop and think of one blessing that you have in your life. First, think about it in detail then pause and place your left hand on your heart to feel it. When I say feel it, literally breathe it in, feel your heart beat and see if you can notice it radiate (because it will whether you are conscious of it or not). What this does: We are a nation driven by “what’s next.” We pass from accomplishment to accomplishment without taking the time to notice what we have finished or the big/little things that were important along the way. One minute of this focused and grateful type of consideration can change the direction of a whole day. We have so much more good in our lives than we allow ourselves to see. See it!
3. What are you putting into your body today? Invite yourself to really pay attention to the food that you eat. Do you see your food as calories or nourishment? When you are done eating/drinking, what does your body feel like? Are you eating quickly or slowly? Do you do others things while you eat? What this does: If you are an American, chances are you don’t think much about your food. This exercise gives you a chance to connect with what sustains you. Also ask, how was this food grown? How many people had a hand in producing what I am eating? Then, get deeper. Is this food organic or not? If not, what does that mean. Food is so important in every aspect from our health to how it is produced and how that affects our community and our world. Be conscious and see what happens.
4. If you have a pet, take a moment today to get down on their level and really engage with them. If you have a dog, really look at your animal and notice how they interact with you. Look intently at their body and face. If you have a cat, see how they so easily walk through life no matter what their disposition. What this does: Animals are unconditional in their connection. What if you greeted your family the same way your dog greets you when you get home. What would that feel like? If your cat is a snuggler: What if you snuggled up to someone in your life like that. Could you do it?
5. We all do some sort of grooming during the day. Pick one to be mindful of – brushing your teeth, combing your hair, shaving. This time you will watch yourself poignantly throughout the task. What this does: What we do everyday at any moment can be meaningful and substantial –- even the minutia. For example, if you decide to pay attention to brushing your teeth, pay attention to the taste of your toothpaste. What does the water sound like as you turn on the faucet? How does it feel when your teeth are clean? What do your teeth look like? So, what do you learn?
In conclusion, mindfulness is about being engaged; experiencing all the little, fabulous details and feelings. Those details then connect you to the big picture as you start to see the glorious web that embraces you, everyone and everything. Mindfulness and meditation allow full body, full mind and full spirit experiences. Whether you practice this exercise for an hour a day or a minute a day, you can improve the world one connected thought at a time.