The biggest excuse for not trying to integrate mindfulness into the day is that you may feel like you don’t have the time. Well, let me remove that limitation for you.
In my last post, I talked about a few of the major benefits of mindfulness. In today’s article, I will provide you with over a dozen opportunities during the day where you can exercise mindfulness.
I’m a huge fan of mindfulness meditation and it has been an indispensable tool when dealing with my anxiety and depression in the past. I’m hoping that by sharing easy ways to practice mindfulness, it could help you to integrate it into your life and see the positive changes for yourself.
1. Washing Dishes
After dinner, you may have a pile of dishes in the sink, just waiting for you to wash. You begin to start the chore a little begrudgingly until you realize that this is the perfect time to start one of those mindfulness exercises that you read about.
I would recommend using a simple Mindful Breathing exercise during this daily chore. By focusing on breathing and just watching your thoughts simply float through your mind unjudged, you’ll finish those dishes and be wishing that there were more to do. Trust me, when you reach that place of acceptance and relaxation, you never want that feeling to end.
2. Cooking or Baking
There is something relaxing about gathering ingredients and combining them to create something delicious and amazing. Why shouldn’t you enhance this experience by doing the Mindful Breathing exercise?
Even if you hate cooking or baking, it is occasionally a necessity and one which can be made a lot less boring or aggravating for you if you are practising mindfulness during the activity.
3. Cleaning the House
Whether you are cleaning your room, sweeping the floors or doing your annual spring-clean, practising mindfulness will make the task less strenuous and more enjoyable.
The act of organizing your space and throwing out old things is already therapeutic and relaxing. Mindfulness can bring an entirely different dynamic to your spring clean.
Plus, you may just find that the cleaning easier and so much more enjoyable.
4. Folding the Laundry
As you fold your freshly washed and dried laundry, you may find that you can easily focus on the softness of the fabrics in your hands or that smell of lavender or whatever your soap powder may smell of.
You could even take a moment to look at the individual strands of that jumper that mother knitted for you and be able to truly appreciate the time it took for her to carefully put it together.
5. At a Red Light or in Traffic
If you are stuck behind a red light or in a bit of a traffic jam, you can take a few moments to either take some mindful breaths or you can even do a sensory awareness exercise.
Take a few moments to take in your surroundings. If it’s raining, you can track a single raindrop as it slowly slips down the windscreen. You can focus on the aspects of your vehicle that you’ve never just looked at before – like the little cracks and ridges in the leather, on the steering wheel or the patterns of dust on the dashboard.
You might even have time to do a quick body scan, though don’t get too relaxed, or you might find yourself being jarred out of your peaceful trance by an angry truck driver.
6. On the Bus or On the Train
If you’re travelling on public transport of any kind, you can take that time to do any of the mindful exercises that I have mentioned.
Again, be careful about getting too relaxed with the body scan exercise as you can easily fall asleep and you don’t want to miss your stop and end up God knows where – I speak from experience here.
7. At Your Desk
If you work a job where you are at a desk for most of your day, when you find your mind wandering, or you find your eyes always looking at the clock, waiting for the time to pass until you can get out of work, you are not being present.
If you are always looking ahead, you may miss opportunities that are right in front of you. It’s the life equivalent of texting and driving. It can have major consequences under the wrong circumstances. So, take some time and practice a few minutes of mindfulness at work; you never know what benefits it could bring to you.
Even duties such as checking emails and answering calls can be done with a sense of mindfulness
8. On Break
When you take your break, this is an excellent opportunity to take a few minutes to yourself and do some mindfulness exercises. It would be easy for you to do a couple of minutes of mindful breathing or even a complete body scan.
A break at work is an ideal time to fit in a few minutes of mindfulness. Especially if you’re having a stressful or troubling day, mindfulness could be just what you need to calm your mind, relax your body and enjoy the rest of the day without it feeling like a drain or a drag.
9. During Manual Work
If your job involves some manual aspect, whether it be construction, design or just lifting boxes, there is an opportunity for you to exercise mindfulness.
Take a moment to truly feel what is in your hands, smell the work going on around you or look at a certain aspect with a renewed interest.
Again, be careful using your sense of taste for being mindful at work – going around licking cardboard boxes could be seen as a little odd and you may find yourself being referred to a psychiatrist; thankfully, I am not speaking from experience this time.
10. Going for a Walk
This can be a great way for you to be mindful. You can either go for a walk that you know or try to explore a new path. Either way, being mindful during your walk can provide you with an all-new experience and perspective on your surroundings. I recommend using the sensory awareness exercise for when you’re out for a walk.
You might listen to the sounds of birds in the trees. Maybe you may feel the wind blowing against you, hear it moving through the trees or see the effect of it as it blows fallen leaves or other bits of debris through the street.
You can be mindful about everything that you see out in the world, whether natural or manmade. A focus on the world around you can instil you with a sense of calm and serenity that only the outside world can bring to you.
I personally love taking mindful walks and trying to look at things in new, different ways, drawing in the different smells around me and hearing man and beast alike. It fills you with a new appreciation for this amazing world that we live in.
Even walking your dog (if you have one) can be an exercise in mindfulness. You could bring your awareness of how your dog seemingly smiles when you take it for a walk. Perhaps you can watch as it wags its tail back and forth. You can hear its excited bark as it sees friendly dogs on the street or in the park, wherever you may be walking.
You can even go on mindful walks with your friends, family or partner if you feel so inclined. When you share happiness, it can only add to your own. It can never subtract away from it.
11. Out Shopping
When you make your weekly shop in your local supermarket, if you are shopping for a new blouse or a new pair of sports shoes, like many other things that I have mentioned before, it can bring a new dimension to an experience that you had taken for granted.
For example, if you find yourself worrying about the future, when you know that you deserve a treat for your hard work during the week, you can take a few mindful breaths to bring your thoughts back to the present and realize that what you need now can be more important than what you think you might need in the future.
Use the sensory awareness exercise to truly appreciate the warm water on your skin. Listen to the water hitting the shower floor. Smell the shampoo and the soap that cleanses your body from head to toe.
This is one of the instances where you can remain mindful for as long as you like. If you prefer a long shower or a bath, try to stay mindful throughout the entire process, and you will come away feeling so much better than when you had first entered your bathroom.
13. Brushing Your Teeth
This is one of the instances where you can use that sense of taste to be mindful. Notice the flavour of the toothpaste in your mouth, whatever that may be. Even if you do not particularly like the taste, try to become aware of it anyway. You may just start to find that it is not as bad as you previously thought it was.
14. Eating a Meal
During a meal, you can fully engage your sense of taste and smell. You can spend a minute just savouring the smells of the prepared meal before. Try to focus in on particular scent and just let yourself be aware of it.
Chew your food slowly and let the taste become richer and more delicious than you had ever noticed before. Instead of wolfing it down in a few minutes with enormous forkfuls, slow down. Take a small bite and slowly chew before swallowing and preparing the next bite for your mouth.
Meals need not be rushed. Trust me, there is only the minutest of possibilities that someone is going to steal your food. Just slow down and take it all in.
There are endless easy ways to practice mindfulness. Lost time doesn’t even come into it.
Once you realise that every waking moment is an opportunity to practice mindfulness, then a world of possibilities opens up.
By finding time to live in the space between thoughts and actions, you can bring greater joy and peace into your life.
What other easy ways could you practice daily mindfulness?
Let me know your thoughts and suggestions in the comments.
As always, stay compassionate with yourself and you will achieve great things.