It’s easy to live your life on autopilot, feeling busy and stressed as you rush around with many things on your mind. In this state, you pay little or no attention to where you are and what you’re doing in the present moment.
Letting go of this busy, frantic state and concentrating on what’s happening right in front of you can help you feel calmer and more able to deal with any challenges that come your way.
Here are four small steps to practicing mindfulness throughout your day.
1. Be Mindful During Your Morning Shower
Your morning shower is a good time to practice being mindful. Focus on how the water feels on your body, the fragrance of your shower gel, and the sound of the water coming out of the shower.
Each time you realize that your mind has wandered to thoughts about the day ahead, your work or other things, gently bring your awareness back to the present moment.
I’ve been practicing mindfulness in the shower for a while now and it’s not easy. I started to become more mindful when I realized that I was in the habit of thinking about everything I had to do that day in the shower, to the extent that I was barely aware of the present moment. I was on autopilot.
Some days, I still find it very difficult to be mindful during my shower, especially if I feel as if I’m going to have a difficult or stressful day. On those days, it’s more important than ever to let each thought go — but it also seems more difficult.
Try not to get frustrated if you find you’re continually bombarded with thoughts. Be thankful that you’re now aware of this and you know what you need to do.
2. Go for a Mindful Walk
Have you ever walked somewhere and, when you’ve reached your destination, you can’t remember a single thing you saw or heard on the walk? This happened because your mind was so focused on your thoughts that you were completely unaware of your surroundings.
A mindful walk takes your attention away from your thoughts and focuses it on your environment.
So, take some time out during the day, perhaps at lunchtime, to go out for a mindful walk.
While you’re walking, focus on observing your environment as much as possible.
Look at the trees and flowers. How tall are the trees? What colors are the flowers?
What noises can you hear? Perhaps you can hear a bird singing. Notice any animals you see, such as squirrel scampering up a tree or a cat walking through the grass.
Observe as much as possible about the wonderful world around you. Try not to attach any stories to anything you see. Just accept each thing as a manifestation of reality.
At the end of your walk, be thankful for the physical exercise you’ve had and everything you’ve seen and experienced. If you wish, write down some interesting things you noticed in your journal or share them with a friend or family member.
3. Be Mindful While Doing Something Boring
We all have boring tasks to do each day — whether it’s washing dishes, folding laundry or cleaning the kitchen floor.
Choose just one of these tasks and make it into a mindful activity. Tell yourself that this task is the most important thing for you to do in this moment, so you need to focus your full attention on it.
While doing the task, bring your senses into play as much as possible. So, if you’re washing the dishes, pay attention to:
- the fragrance of the dish washing liquid
- the color and texture of each plate, cup and spoon that you wash
- how each item feels in your hands
- the noise of the water and the sounds it makes as you wash the dishes
- the temperature of the water on your hands.
As you can see, there are many things you can be thinking about while you focus on the task at hand.
4. Be Mindful While Getting Ready for Bed
Being mindful as you wind down before bedtime will help you sleep better.
Cleaning your teeth can become a mindful practice as you notice the appearance, color and fragrance of the toothpaste when you squeeze it onto your toothbrush. Pay attention to the sensations in your mouth as you clean your teeth. Listen to the sound of the water as you rinse your mouth.
Keep a notebook by your bed and write down anything that keeps coming into your mind, such as things to do tomorrow, unresolved problems, and worries.
Once you’ve committed these things to paper, it should be easier to stop thinking about them. If you still find it difficult, practice this gentle technique for letting go of a negative thought.
The Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness
Take one small step towards a mindful day by practicing just one of these ways of being mindful at first. When that has become part of your daily routine, add another.
As you continue to practice mindfulness throughout each day, you’ll feel much calmer over time. You’ll start to respond, rather than react, to tricky situations. As you become more aware of the wonderful world around you, you’ll appreciate your life more.
Don’t worry if your mind wanders while you’re practicing mindfulness. This happens to everyone, even people who’ve practiced mindfulness for years. Just bring your awareness back to what’s happening in the present moment, without judging yourself.
Ultimately, being mindful is about being fully aware of and living in the present, rather than focusing on the past or future in your mind.