The act of living in the moment (aka mindfulness) is known to provide a wealth of benefits, including reducing stress, boosting the immune system, lowering blood pressure, and increasing happiness. However, studies show that almost half of us spend most of our time thinking about everything except what we’re doing, which is the exact opposite of living a healthy, mindful life. Try incorporating the below steps into your daily routine to get your mind and body pointed in a more mindful direction.
- Before getting out of bed in the morning, spend a few minutes noticing your breath and letting go of any thoughts that come into your mind about the upcoming day. Close your eyes and visualize your current surroundings: What do you smell? What do you hear? What can you touch? What do you feel?
- Throughout the day, notice when your mind wanders and gently bring your attention back to the present moment. Keep your thoughts calm and be kind to yourself: like anything else, mindfulness takes practice and repetition before you become good at it.
- Attribute purpose to your actions: notice what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Pay attention to your feelings, movements, and words to gain a clear perspective of what it is you’re trying to accomplish.
- Bring your awareness to your eating habits: every time you eat or drink something, notice the way it feels in your mouth, and how it tastes and satisfies you. Eat your meals sitting down, tasting every ounce and taking the time to think about each piece as you chew it.
- As the old saying goes, the past is history and the future is a mystery. The present is where you are right now, so you should be living in it. Learning from the past and planning for the future are great, but you need to live in the present. Stay in the moment and you will be much happier and content for it.
- Learn to enjoy the simplicity of staying still and doing nothing. Turn off your electronics, empty your mind of anything other than the present moment, and spend some time alone, preferable outdoors watching the world unfold exactly as it appears. Work on letting go of judgement and control, and just let things be.
- Daily mediation and deep breathing are invaluable rituals that everyone should incorporate into their lives, but they are especially helpful for those who want to work on staying mindful. If you’re new to meditation, there are many free guided meditation apps you can download to your phone, but an easy way to get started is by focusing on your breathing. Go to a quiet space and sit in a chair or on the floor with your back straight. Place your hands on your thighs with your palms either up or down. Keep your legs uncrossed if you’re seated in a chair or cross your legs if you’re on the floor. Close your eyes and bring your focus to your breath. Allow your breathing to deepen as you inhale while silently counting to four. Exhale to a count of four as your pull your belly button in towards your spine. As thoughts come up, let them go and bring your attention back to your breath. Continue the gentle in-for-four/out-for-four count for at least five minutes.
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