Mindfulness…the term gets thrown around a lot, but what does it mean? For many mindfulness usually brings up an image of someone meditating in a quiet room, but being mindful is so much more than meditation.
Let’s start with the definition of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and aware of where we are and what we are doing. Being mindful also means that we are not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what is going on around us. So of course we can use this idea with meditation, but we can also utilize it into our daily lives.
Check in with your body.
One way to be mindful is doing a quick body scan. A body scan can be done anywhere. You can be sitting or standing when you are doing a body scan.
To start, take a moment and take a deep breath. Inhale with your nose and exhale from your mouth. Now notice the different areas of your body; your toes, feet, ankle, calf, thighs, hips, stomach, chest, shoulder, neck, and lastly your head. Take note of what you feel in each of those areas. If there are any areas that feel more tense/tight, try and take a deep breath into those areas. End the body scan with another deep breath.
Try this exercise throughout the day and notice what area seems to be the most tense. This may be where you hold tension, and being mindful of this can allow you to remind yourself to relax these areas.
Mindfulness is being present in that particular moment. You can do this while doing many different tasks throughout the day. One task that you can practice mindfulness in can be through cooking.
While cooking, you can say out loud what you are doing in that moment. Saying, “I am chopping onions” will allow your mind to shift and focus on what you are doing in that moment. You can do that with every new task while cooking your meal. You can also focus on the different smells in the room, the temperature rising in the room, maybe your stomach getting hungry. While doing this your mind may wander, that’s totally fine. If your mind wanders, notice the thought and let it flow freely. There’s no judgment if your mind wanders, the whole point of mindfulness is just to notice.
This activity can be used in other daily activities. You can do it while you are cleaning your house, taking a walk, or at work. It is easy to apply mindfulness to every task.
Although I started this article explaining that mindfulness isn’t only meditating, I believe that meditation can also help one be mindful. Meditation can sometimes be difficult to start, but starting off small can help meditation be part of your daily schedule. A good way to start is beginning with a 5-minute meditation. This meditation could be guided or unguided, the choice is up to you. If you feel that it is difficult to focus on the present in silence, I would recommend trying out a simple guided meditation. Once you make it a habit to meditate, it’ll easily be part of your schedule. You can find many different meditations on different apps like HeadSpace and Calm.com. There are many free meditations available on YouTube.