“When you drive around the city and come to a red light or a stop sign, you can just sit back and make use of these twenty or thirty seconds to relax — to breathe in, breathe out, and enjoy arriving in the present moment. There are many things like that we can do.” -Thich Nhat Hanh
With everyone from highly successful businesspeople to celebrities and professional athletes singing the praises of mindfulness meditation, it can feel as though we’re the only ones struggling to make time to practice. However, before we get too overwhelmed with the idea of setting up or maintaining a mindfulness meditation practice, it is helpful to keep in mind that there are techniques we can incorporate into our lives no matter how busy we find ourselves. Essentially, mindfulness means being aware of the present moment as it occurs and without judgment. It doesn’t necessarily mean dropping everything to sit in silence for an hour everyday. Below are a few opportunities to practice mindfulness that involve activities or tasks already a part of our day-to-day lives. Beginning with just one and then slowly adding a second or third technique each day or week is one way to gradually lead a more mindful life.
Single-task. We are led to believe that being efficient and effective means multitasking, although, in actuality, we are often able to perform better when we do one thing at a time. Next time you find yourself juggling multiple activities at once, step back, prioritize, and complete each piece of work one at a time. Because you have given your full attention to the task at hand, you’ll notice the higher quality of work produced.
Turn everyday tasks into mindfulness exercises. Do you find yourself washing the dishes or sweeping the house on a daily basis? Rather than grumble through these mundane chores, turn them into a mindfulness practice. Bringing full awareness to the physical act of dishwashing or our hands as we hold the broom, we train our minds to remain in the present moment.
Meditate. Just 1-3 minutes of brief meditation sessions incorporated into our day can have a significant effect on how we handle stress. Whether sitting at our desk, in our car, or in the office conference room, we can notice our breath as it moves in and out of the body and re-focus our mind when it wanders without harshly criticizing ourselves.
Interact mindfully. Whether paying complete attention to whoever we are listening to or carefully crafting an e-mail response, we can gently remind ourselves to remain in the present moment whenever we communicate. How often during a meeting or conversation do we zone out or begin mentally drafting our to-do list? When we find ourselves in this situation, we can observe and then, with compassion, shift our attention back to the individual who is speaking.
Take a deep breath. No matter how hectic our day gets, we can almost always make the time for a single deep breath. It’s amazing how much calmer and more grounded even a single breath can make us feel. Whether we’re coming out of a high-stress meeting with our boss or client, or feeling overwhelmed by our overflowing e-mail inbox, taking one deep breath before moving on to the next task will return us to the present moment.
Life can have us running around without a moment to spare, but even on those extremely busy days, you can practice mindfulness without adding yet another item to our to-do list. By incorporating one or more of the above ideas into your day, you will find that being mindful, even in small doses, can have a huge positive effect on your life.
Meditation instructor Alice Lash offers mindfulness meditation in Miami. Interested in learning more about mindfulness meditation? Contact Mindfultime with your questions or register for a class today.