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May 1, 2020
When most people hear the word “mindfulness,” they often think of a complicated ritual that they don’t have the time or skillset to fully embrace. In reality, it’s just the opposite. Mindfulness is the simple ability to be fully present, aware of where you are and what you’re doing, and not become overwhelmed by what’s going on around you. The beauty of striving to be more mindful in your everyday life is not merely that it helps alleviate stress, invigorates the spirit, or clears your line of thinking, it’s that it can be done in any location, under any circumstance, by any person. The best way to appreciate what mindfulness is and how transformative it can be is to practice it. Here’s how:
In any given day, there are countless situations that require people to wait and, likewise, opportunities to redirect their thoughts to the present moment. Whether you are delayed by the subway on your daily commute, are letting your nails dry at the salon, or are standing in line at the grocery store, these seemingly mundane periods of waiting are an ideal time to take in your surroundings. Instead of becoming frustrated by the inconvenience or distracting yourself on your phone, try focusing on your breathing, noticing subtle things around you, and just letting things be.
There are certain activities that you perform in the same way every single day. Rather than trying to get them done mindlessly and as quickly as possible, do the opposite. Absorb your sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and experiences as you eat a meal, brush your teeth, or walk your dog in the morning.
Make mindfulness a habit by establishing a cue that encourages you to be more present in the current moment. For example, every time you have the urge to check your phone, stop and take in your surroundings for a few moments first.
Mindfulness doesn’t have to be a constant or overly-extended effort. Choosing to be mindful for short, intermittent periods throughout the day is enough to reap its rewards. Additionally, there’s no need to put rules on practicing mindfulness. Give your mind permission to be free, then gently redirect your thoughts to the present moment when it wanders too far off.
As with any positive habit, practicing mindfulness will make the exercise easier and naturally more frequent. So what are you waiting for? Take the opportunity to taste the food you eat, feel the clothes you wear, and hear the sounds that surround you. You may be surprised to see how beautiful your everyday life really is.
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