October 8, 2020
How to Practice Everyday Mindfulness
October 10th is World Mental Health Day and this is a great reminder to step back and assess where you’re at with your emotions and coping strategies. In a year full of unrest and uncertainty, it’s been challenging for many to stay centered. Daily mindfulness practice can help you be present to what’s happening and enjoy the special moments in your day.
When we’re not present, we can find ourselves ruminating about the past or worrying about the future rather than seeing what’s in front of us right now. And when we’re not aware of our emotions and how the body is feeling, it can make it harder to understand what we need and have those needs met. No matter where you are or how much free time you have, there are a few easy steps you can take to slow down and become aware of what’s most important in this moment.
Check out our Introduction to Mindfulness on-demand content for more ways to be present in your everyday life!
Start with Your Breath
Breathing is something you probably don’t think about very much because it happens without having to concentrate on it. But bringing your attention to just a few breaths is an easy way to begin teaching your mind to focus on what’s happening in this moment.
As you breathe in and breathe out, recognize the inhale and exhale portion of each breath. Noticing the sensations of breathing, at the nostrils, chest or belly, helps you focus on this moment, letting go of whatever worries and distractions you were holding onto before. This is where the benefits of mindfulness begin.
Check out our Awareness of Breathing on-demand content to bring more focused attention to each breath, without trying to change or control the breath.
Bring Your Concentration Inward
Rather than focusing on things that are outside of yourself, focus on your breathing, and follow each breath as it comes in and goes out. There is no need to breathe any certain way – however big or small your in-breaths and out-breaths are, follow them all the way in and all the way out.
It sounds easy, but it’s okay if this exercise is a challenge for you at first, as it’s natural for the mind to want to wander and pull your focus toward something else – “Did I remember to turn the stove off? Am I forgetting something that I need to do today?” and other thoughts will creep in and grab your attention. The practice is to return to the breath and simply follow it through the entire inhale and exhale.. Taking a few moments to focus solely on your breathing may not seem like a big deal, but the ability to train your mind to observe what’s happening in your body is an important step to benefit from everyday mindfulness.
Bring Awareness to Your Body
As you relax into mindful breathing and guide your awareness and concentration inward, you become more present with your thoughts, feelings, and what’s going on in your body. While maintaining mindful breathing, slowly extend your focus out to the rest of your body – what feelings or sensations come up, if any?
Some things to notice while you’re bringing awareness to your body:
- Are you fully relaxed or are you holding tension anywhere?
- Are your shoulders, jaw, and other tension-holding body parts fully relaxed or are they tense?
- Does anything feel uncomfortable or painful? Do you need to shift or adjust how you’re sitting in order to achieve full body relaxation?
With jobs, responsibilities, and other people taking so much of our focus and attention on a daily basis, it’s easy to feel disconnected from yourself. Giving this gift of awareness and honoring what your body is feeling can help bring you back to yourself and strengthen that connection.
The body holds tension in many different places, and a lot of times you don’t even notice you’re carrying it. If you’re noticing that your shoulders are high near your ears, your fists are balled, your jaw is clenched, or your muscles are tense as you’re spreading that awareness around your body, give yourself permission to gently release it and let it go.
Once the weight of that tension is released, you may notice that your breathing becomes deeper and it’s easier to relax. If there are emotions that are tied to your tension, allow yourself to sit with those and accept exactly how you’re feeling in the moment.
Having a Hard Time Focusing? Check Out Our Mindfulness at Work live program!
Connect Yourself with the Present Moment, Wherever You Are
Although mindfulness of breathing is about bringing your attention inward, the practice is to focus the mind so that you can apply this to wherever you are. When we are mindful, we are fully living in the present moment, and it’s an approach that you can take with you anywhere. On the way to your car before going to work or running an errand, you’re probably already focused on what you need to do once you get there or worried about what you weren’t able to accomplish before you left.
Rather than hurrying across the parking lot to begin your morning commute, make it a slow walk and simply take in the moment – can you feel the sun on your face or is there a breeze? Are there people out walking their dogs or children at a bus stop on the way to school? What emotions are you experiencing as you’re walking?
Bringing your awareness and concentration to yourself and feeling connected to the present moment can be a great way to move through the day with more inner peace, and the more you practice it, and the more natural it will become.
Looking for more ways to be mindful? Subscribe to our Mindful Daily sessions!
Written by Becky Greiner