In our hectic and digitally driven lives, finding moments of stillness might seem impossible. We are inundated with information, up against tight deadlines, and distracted by notifications that leave us feeling overwhelmed and disconnected from our body and our breath. A daily mindfulness practice is the antidote. This ancient practice has roots in Buddhist traditions and its benefits are backed by scientific research that supports the act of being present moment to moment as essential to feeling calmer, grounded and fulfilled.
There are 6 characteristics of mindfulness that help make the practice more accessible for “newbies” and that remind us all of importance of being present in the moment.
Mindfulness practices often draw in all five senses as a way to connect to the present moment – One of the simplest ways to practice mindfulness is to focus on your sense of taste, touch, sight, sound and smell. For this practice, you pause, bring all of your attention to each sense individually and notice, without judging, what comes up for you moment to moment. If you’re short on time but need a break, you can focus on a different sense throughout the day. For example, instead of grabbing your phone while sitting in traffic, notice the sights of the other cars and drivers around you. Or, take a deep breath before you head into your next meeting and notice the sounds of the office.
Mindfulness practices can be incorporated into everyday routines – We’ve been conditioned to fill every moment of the day with socialization, information, social media and scrolling. Practicing mindfulness often means going about your normal daily tasks without additional distractions. Three of my favorite practices are:
Mindful showering – bringing my full attention to the feeling of the water on my skin
Mindful chores – focusing on each individual task
Mindful nature walks – looking up and around to take in the sights
Mindfulness is simple – You don’t have to meditate in silence, sit still on a yoga mat and count every breath, set a timer, strive for enlightenment or have any fancy equipment to practice mindfulness. In fact, you can stop reading right now, turn away from the screen and take a body scan of how you feel from head to toe.
Mindfulness can be practiced by anyone – You are not too old, your children are not too young and no one is too busy to practice mindfulness. The benefits of mindfulness apply to everyone!
Mindfulness can be practiced anytime – The best time to practice mindfulness is the time that works best for you. I’ve shared some examples above, but you may have other times that work better for your busy schedule. For me, the easiest way to practice has been to weave in moments of mindfulness into the things I do almost every single day – shower, walk my dog, exercise, chores, stretch before bed. That way, if the day takes a turn by midafternoon, I know that I can still carve out those quiet moments to myself during my evening shower.
Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere – In fact, you might already be practicing! Those few breaths you take before picking up your kids, that walk you take to clear your head after a long meeting, that meal you enjoy in solitude without your phone…these are all mindful moments.