Top 5 Tips for a Daily Mindfulness Practice
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment, non-judgmentally. This kind of mindfulness attention to the present moment nurtures greater awareness, clarity and acceptance. When living with a mindful attitude, you begin to see your life as unfolding in moments and you realize that if you are not fully present, you may miss moments (and potentially very valuable moments).
Let’s take a step back and explore the word “non-judgmentally.” Being non-judgemental sounds so simple, but it’s actually really hard. This is because we have been taught to look at situations as good or bad, right or wrong, fun or boring, etc. This is binary thinking, and it can easily trap us in a one-track thinking mode. When we become trapped and stuck in this thinking pattern it becomes difficult to practice acceptance. For example, you studied hard, worked hard, practiced hard or tried hard and did not get the outcome you wanted. Usually, you would judge this situation as “bad” and that would likely bring up negative feelings and self-judgment. On the flip side, if you looked at this situation as neutral you would remove the judgement and see it as just another situation —“it is what it is”— and start moving forward. You accept reality, instead of fighting reality. This takes A LOT of practice, but it’s an integral part of living with a mindful attitude.
Again, mindfulness is intentionally paying attention to the present moment, non-judgementally. That is, noticing and accepting outcomes, situations, events just as they are.
Now that we’ve briefly discussed what mindfulness is, HOW can we practice mindfulness? Here are my top 5 ways I like to practice mindfulness daily and cultivate that mindful attitude:
- Do one thing at a time - Stop multi-tasking! When you are drinking your coffee, just drink your coffee. When you’re eating, just eat. Try to avoid the habit of knocking out a few items on your to-do list while eating your lunch. This allows you to be fully present in whatever you are doing…such as, eating your lunch.
- Put space between events during your day — Manage your schedule so that you always have time to complete each task and don’t feel rushed getting to the next thing. You will feel more relaxed and able to be fully focused on your current activity.
- Spend 5 minutes per day doing nothing — Allow for 5 minutes of silence, to become aware of your thoughts, breath or the space around you. This is just a few moments to disconnect from the world and reconnect with yourself.
- Become aware of your thinking — Get to know your thoughts and notice when you are worrying. Learn to recognize when you have drifted off into the worrying future and bring your mind back to the present moment and focus on what you are doing, right now.
- Making everyday activities opportunities to meditate — Take an activity you do everyday and do it with full focus and intention. For example, feeling the water on your skin while taking a shower, sitting on the bus and feeling your breath, noticing the clouds in the sky, truly being present and listening while talking with a friend, feeling your feet on the ground as you are walking, etc.
“Let silence take you to the core of life.” -Rumi
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