Many people feel enthusiastic once they start a mindfulness course and they report lots of benefits from their practice. However, very often, after a while these new habits fade away and the old habitual patterns sneak in again...
But it doesn't need to be that way: you can integrate small doses of mindfulness into your day without it taking too much time or effort. You only need to think about it. And once you have integrated it into your habits, it becomes a no-brainer just like brushing your teeth. Here are a few suggestions that you might want to try out. Do not feel like you need to do all of them, but rather pick out a few that sound feasible to you and try them out.
Integrate mindfulness into your morning rituals
- When you first wake up in the morning, before you get out of bed, bring your attention to your breathing. Observe some mindful breaths.
- Do a quick body scan: from your head to your toes - give some mindful attention to all your body parts.
- Bring attention to your morning rituals such as taking a shower, brushing your teeth or combing your hair.
- If it is possible for you, reserve some time for a morning meditation. You can find lots of free meditations by our teachers by following this link on our website.
- Whenever you eat or drink something, try to eat at least one mindful mouthful per meal. If you can, take a few mindful breaths.
- Bring some gratitude to the people who have produced this food for you: the farmer, the cheese maker, the seller, the cook,...
- Pay attention as you eat, consume this food consciously and notice its benefits for your health. Bring awareness to seeing, smelling, tasting, chewing and swallowing your food.
Anything can be an invitation to be present
- You can use any sound as 'the bell of mindfulness', whether it is a phone ringing, a bird singing, the sound of a car, the wind, the sound of a door closing, laughter. Whenever you hear that sound, really listen and take it as an invitation to be present and awake.
- Be aware of any points of tightness in your body throughout the day. Is there tension stored anywhere in your body? Your neck, shoulders, stomach, jaw, or lower back? See if you can breathe into it and, as you exhale, let go of the tensions. Also, if possible, stretch or do yoga once a day.
- Throughout the day, take a few moments to bring your attention to your breathing. Observe several mindful breaths as often as you can.
- If it is helpful you can download one of the many apps which send you reminders to take regular pauses.
About walking, talking and listening
- Feel your body while you walk or stand. Take a moment to notice your posture. Pay attention to the contact of the ground under your feet. Feel the air on your face, arms and legs as you walk. Notice if you are you rushing and- if possible - slow down.
- Bring awareness to listening and talking. Can you listen without agreeing or disagreeing, liking or disliking, or planning what you will say without overstating or understating? Can you notice how your mind and body feel when you are deeply listening? Can you simply be curious and let go any judgment when being present with others?
- Whenever you wait in line, use this time to notice standing and breathing. Feel the contact of your feet on the floor and how your body feels. Notice if you are feeling impatient. You might want to take a breathing space instead of checking you phone. You can can try one of our guided breathing spaces here.
- Be aware of activities that bring stress during the hours before you go to bed and see if you can find ways to slow down and "decompress" during the evening. Ideally you should avoid screen time at least one hour before going to bed and rather do something that relaxes you, such as listening to music, reading a nice book, having a conversation about your day, or meditate.
- Bring attention to your evening rituals such as doing the dishes, cleaning up or brushing your teeth. As good as you can step into sensing and being rather than doing and analysing..
- Before you go to sleep at night, take a few minutes and bring your attention to your breathing and your body.
- Think of 10 things from this day for which you are grateful. You can also do a gratitude meditation or write a gratitude journal. Gratitude is a beautiful way to end the day...
Try to integrate some of these simple habits into your routine activities and observe if you notice any change.
Another powerful way of bringing more presence into your life can be to change some habits. You could for example change your seat at the dinner table or the sides of your bed, take a new way to work or to the super market. This can help to bring more curiosity to these activities and help you to bring your attention back to the present moment. After some time you might notice that in the present moment there is much more right than wrong.......