5 Ways Mindfulness Can Improve Your Day
Meditation is all about directing your attention back to the present moment.
Throughout the day you can use reminders (whether this be alerts, or physical landmarks or sounds outside) to re-focus your energy- and move it from your thoughts to your breath.
Following the breath with your attention, noticing its sensations and rhythm, even slowing or deepening the breath cycles- can relax you and tune you back into the here and now.
Grounding and patience while waiting in line:
If you notice yourself getting anxious or antsy in line, alter your breath. Briefly see if you’re comfortable with the way you’re standing or sitting, and then start to count your breaths. Inhale for a count of 4, and exhale for a count of 5. Try to notice the little spaces of stillness between the in and out cycles- at the top of the inhale and the bottom of the exhale.
The breath will slow down a bit, but it should feel comfortable. Keep breathing like this for a minute or two, or until you feel a noticeable calming effect. Then let your breath return to normal and carry on.
Intention and compassion on the airplane:
Set yourself up for a positive, low-stress experience.
Once you’re seated and your things are put away, take a moment to close your eyes and feel your breath rising and falling in your chest. Visualize a smooth flight that is quiet and peaceful. Imagine all the other people traveling with you having a comfortable and peaceful experience as well, getting to their destinations safely. If you like, imagine a golden bubble of protection around your plane as it moves through the air to get your safely and swiftly to your destination. Allow these thoughts to relax you as you feel your energy settle. You may even feel a tiny smile at the corners of your mouth. Then follow your breath again for several cycles of in and out before you open your eyes.
Mindfulness at your desk:
Do a quick body scan to return to the present moment (and build body awareness)
Close your eyes and turn computers and mobile devices to Do Not Disturb. Set an alarm for 10 minutes if you like. Put headphones on if there are other people around and you don’t want to be interrupted. You could play relaxing music or nature sounds, or just leave them off to block noise.
Close your eyes and feel the seat your body is resting in. Uncross your legs and let you feet ground into the floor (remove shoes if you like). Lift your spine up straight and soften your belly. Take a couple of deep breaths and then allow the breath to move in and out naturally.
Imagine your attention is like a flashlight and that you can notice any sensations in the physical body just by directing it to a certain area. Notice sensations like pressure, heat, cold, fatigue, pain, energy, stagnancy, or whatever else comes up for you, but try to just observe them without having much of a reaction or harshly judging yourself- just notice them, let them be there, and then move to the next body area. Start down at the feet and then move upwards (ankles, lower legs, knees, etc.) all the way to the top of the head. When you finish, rest your attention on your breath again and take one deep inhale and exhale before you open your eyes.
Raise the vibration of your commute:
While walking, biking, or taking the train to work you can repeat a simple mantra to yourself or out loud. A word or short phrase with a positive connotation to you will do wonders to set the tone for the day, and repeating mantra or short affirmations has a calming and stealing effect on the brain. Some examples are: Aum (‘Om’), peace, I love you, I am confident, I am centered. You can use any word or short phrase that inspires you or relates to something you are working on improving personally or a vision you may have for the greater good of the world. Some people like to use a mala or rosary and twist or roll a bead while they say the mantra internally. You can also make or find a recording of the mantra and listen to it in your headphones. Or just repeat in your own head until you feel satisfied. Change mantras as desired.
Mindfulness while washing the dishes (or cleaning the house):
When doing actions that are repetitive or monotonous, the mind will cycle thoughts on autopilot, because conscious attention isn’t in full demand for the task at hand. Make these activities into a mindfulness practice of watching the thoughts, and allowing them to be as they are. Pretend you are just observing, lightly, what is taking place in the monkey-mind. You are watching and listening to the patterns of thought that cycle on and on, but the goal is to leave them be. Don’t become involved- meaning, see if you can observe the thoughts without reacting. That means not allowing judgment of the thoughts at this point in time. And if you find yourself trying to find an explanation or add to the story that’s playing out in the mind, take a step back as soon as you notice, because you’ve been drawn in. Just become the observer once more and watch. You may notice that the thoughts begin to quiet themselves when you don’t engage with them, and that there may be even more room for creativity and inspiration in the spaces in between.
Mindfulness in one area of your life helps create mindfulness in all areas of your life.