Opportunities for mindfulness present themselves to us every day. Being mindful is a powerful tool we can use to strengthen the connection between our mind and body. As we draw ourselves in the present moment through mindfulness, we allow ourselves to experience a richer, fuller, and more realistic world. A world that is not skewed or distorted by our inner narratives and past stories. By being mindful we are more likely to embrace, accept, and learn more about ourselves and others.
Here are our five favorite ways of practicing mindfulness:
1. Gratitude Practice
At the beginning of each and every day, write down three things you are thankful for. Taking note of the blessings in your life can cultivate a sense of presence and grounding, this establishes self-worth and minimizes insecurity. By bringing yourself into the present moment and getting real about what you are grateful for, your mind is able to expand into a feeling of acceptance and peace for who you are and how beautiful your reality is.
Breathing practices create conscious control and are said to influence a person’s mental, emotional, and physical state. By slowing down, tapping into, and utilizing breath patterns, one can influence their heart rate, thought patterns, and gain access to their parasympathetic nervous system (our rest and relaxation system!).
When this system is activated, we enter a state of mindfulness and calmness. If breathwork is new to you, simply start by closing your eyes and paying close attention to the rise and fall of your chest. When you realize just how powerful your breath is, take some time to check out YouTube for an endless supply of skilled Breathwork guides.
Related Article: The Power of a Morning Ritual
3. Sitting in stillness
Slow down and sit in absolute stillness to practice mindfulness by looking inward. By allowing ourselves to sit in stillness we can better process and acknowledge emotions, sensations, and feelings (good and bad). Start small, five minutes can be a great kickoff point.
Set your timer for your desired number of minutes, find a comfortable seat, close your eyes, and give yourself permission to feel and wonder. You have the option of visualizing blank space, a happy place, or maybe even your highest self. As you look within, you decide what is truly important to you and what is simply chatter that you use as a distraction to keep yourself from living a mindful life. After your timer beeps, take a few moments to note down what came up for you.
Pro tip: Visualization and imagery stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system.
4. Eat mindfully
Use nutrition and consciousness to guide you to a more mindful diet and slower mealtimes. Taking care and paying attention to what you eat is a simple way to signify to your deepest and highest self that you truly want the best for yourself. Eating can be just another thing we do out of necessity, or it can be a rich and enlightening experience that slows us down and connects us to our needs and desires.
To practice mindfulness while eating, engage fully with the experience of eating and eliminate distractions. Be fully present as you eat. Make mealtime a joyous ritual that allows you to connect with your needs and unique tastes. Eat foods that make you feel good and nourish your body. Forget judgment and explore what feelings arise.
Related Article: Movement as Medicine
5. Walk mindfully
Need we say more? If you are able-bodied, walking is most likely automatic and thoughtless for you. You can do it without thinking, without opening your eyes, and without purpose. Choosing to bring awareness back into this automatic process can be a form of mindfulness you can practice whenever you feel the need to. Encourage yourself to slow down and experience each step entirely. Identify your unique rhythm. Feel the ground beneath you as you walk. Notice the distance between your steps. Spread your toes out a little further than usual. Draw your shoulders away from your ears and turn autopilot off.
Life Hack: Use this built-in mindfulness practice to slow down your brain and heart as you approach new or stressful situations.
Do you have a favorite mindfulness technique that we did not cover? Let us know!