Here’s A Different Approach To Make Your Mindfulness Habit Stick
“Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.”~ Jon Kabat-Zinn
I’m drawn to the idea of practicing mindfulness as part of my daily routine. I strive to be able to sit contentedly, observing my thoughts and letting them go, achieving a meditative state.
I’m passionate about my morning routine and I believed that scheduling in 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation each day would enhance it. I have the Headspace Mindfulness App and I feel so good after I have used it. For this reason, I set out to listen to this for 15 minutes every day. It started out well but then trailed off as other things took priority and I failed at making it a habit.
At first, I wondered whether it was the time of day I had chosen. Maybe mornings were not best for me. With the whole day stretching out ahead of me, I have too much on my mind and I am eager to get started with everything I want to achieve that day, so it makes mindfulness meditation too difficult.
When I tried allocating time in the evening I found that other things always got in the way, and just before bed I always fell asleep. I couldn’t seem to find any time that worked for me to dedicate to being mindful. After much consideration and analysis of the situation, and after reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s book The Miracle of Mindfulness, I started to realize I should look at mindfulness differently. It wasn’t about allocating a specific time for mindfulness, it was about incorporating it into my already existing activities.
These are some of the things you can do to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine.
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Mindful Tea Drinking
“Drink your tea slowly, and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly without rushing towards the future. Only this moment is life.”
As Thitch Nhat Hanh states in the quote above, mindful tea drinking can be experienced by sitting down doing nothing else but taking the time to really focus on the tea. Boil the water and notice your breath as you are waiting for it to boil. Assemble the ingredients, notice the smell coming from the tea and the heat coming from the water. Breathe deeply. Sip the tea slowly. Notice how it tastes. Notice how you feel drinking it. Take some delightful time to sit and savour the tea drinking experience.
Mindful Washing Up
Living in the present moment can be practiced whilst washing up. First of all, focus on your breathing whilst you run a bowl of water. Notice the temperature of the water and how it feels on your hands. Notice the bubbles and how the dishes look sparkling clean when they come out of the water. Notice how you feel about doing the washing up and let the thoughts fade away. When you notice that your thoughts start to wander off and bring them back to the washing up, that’s when you are truly achieving mindfulness.
It can be easy to think of your commute as something that has to be endured, but you have the option to change your view of the commute and instead to look at your journey as an opportunity to practice your mindfulness skills. Take the time to sit and focus. Concentrate on your breathing. Take in the journey, focus on the surroundings. Focus your mind, don’t let it run off thinking 1000 different things. It can help make your journey far more relaxing.
Whilst you are out with friends, be with those friends fully. Don’t be distracted on your phone or thinking about other things. Properly listen to them, engage with them, ask them questions, enquire after them. You’ll find you have a much better time.
If you find yourself having to queue up for something, don’t stress out and get impatient, use it as an opportunity to practice being mindful. You can turn it into a positive and see it as an opportunity to practice. Become aware of your breath. Tune everything else out. Take a bit of quiet time in a busy day to just be in a queue.
Often when we run, especially if we are not huge running fans but are doing it to keep fit, we can try to distract ourselves from the fact that we are running. Try practicing mindful running. Be aware of how each step feels. Focus on your breathing and how your lungs feel as you run. Empty your mind of other thoughts. Just focus on your run. Be present about where you are running. Take in your surroundings. Notice everything about the run.
I’m not suggesting that there’s no benefit in dedicated mindfulness sessions. Sometimes when I feel a bit stressed, and have lots of thoughts cluttering up my mind, it really helps me to allocate some time to sit and be mindful. What I realized, however, is that regular meditation sessions are not the only option. If you start to incorporate mindfulness into everyday tasks, it’s much easier to make it part of your daily routine.
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