Mindfulness is talked about a lot but only a few people have/make time for it.
If you’re a busy person, you probably often find yourself at the end of the day thinking… where did today go?
Or like me, asking what happened to these last nine months of the year. .
It’s so easy to be running around, chasing goals, chores and targets, fully preoccupied with the future and missing out on the NOW, which, as Eckhart Tolle drilled into my head in a monotonous way, NOW is the only time there is.
He has a point, though.
I’m not going to be lecturing you on how bad being overly ambitious and chasing goals is. I know the thrill it brings. I’m with you.
But, I want to give you a few tips that you can sneak into your day that will help you be a bit more present and mindful, albeit momentarily. Maybe you’ll like the magic it can create, and you’ll bring it into different areas of your life.
Ok, let’s get meditation out of the way. You knew I was going to mention it.
There is a saying:
“If you don’t have time to meditate for 30 minutes, you should meditate for an hour. “
I’ll be honest with you. I don’t meditate for 30 minutes. And if I meditated for an hour, I’d jump out of my own skin. And adding to the honesty, even with all the meditation I do, I still want to slap people sometimes.
So don’t expect it to be a life-changer.
But 5-10 minute meditation can be a nice start of the day or a welcomed refresher halfway through.
Give it a try.
Just put your phone away, trust the emails from your boss won’t go anywhere, and inhale and exhale 100 times. That’s all there is to it.
Have you ever paid attention to how the ground feels or how your feet feel in your shoes while walking? You’d be surprised how differently various surfaces feel. Road, sidewalk, gravel, grass, they all feel very different. Walking is a great opportunity to be mindful for a moment. You’re walking (somewhere) anyway, so all you need to do is to pay attention to your feet for a moment.
Try it. You’ll be surprised.
PRO TIP: Try taking your shoes off and walk on the grass for a bit. (Watch out for dog walkers.)
Food is such a bit part of our life, and people are happy to sacrifice their health just to have a bit more of it. Yet, it’s not uncommon to finish the meal and think… what? Where did that go? Once it happened to me with a 12 slice pizza!
It’ still a bit of a mystery.
But, eating is a great opportunity for a quick mindfulness moment.
I have a little trick I use. Imagine, it’s the last time you’re eating that particular dish, and you’ll never ever be able to eat it again. (If you’re little twisted, you can imagine you’re on a death row (or Jesus), and that’s your last supper.)
Alternatively, imagine you’ll be writing a 1000 words food review. You’ll be surprised how many flavours and textures you’ll notice in the meal. Maybe that’s what the food critics are after.
A great way to practice mindfulness and pay attention to the present moment is to pause for 30 seconds or a minute when you catch yourself just mindlessly doing something or rushing.
The thing to pay attention to is the absence of the rush or mindless activity. It’s as if the pause was a vacuum and the activity was a pressure surrounding it trying to re-fill it quickly. Just take a moment and feel what it’s like to stand still.
Another great way to use a pause for mindfulness practice is during speaking. We fill in the pauses with “emmms” and “ammmms” because the silence/pause feels uncomfortable.
You don’t need to pause for 20 seconds. Just a few seconds here and there and see what new/other/better thoughts pop in your mind when you give them some space.
TAKE A DIFFERENT TURN TO MINDFULNESS.
The more familiar something is, the less you need to think about it, and the less you will think about it. Doing something new will heighten your senses. That’s what being present is also about. So take different turns when you walk, run, cycle or drive. You may discover new interesting areas and roads. At the very least, you will make it a bit more interesting.
I did the same thing on my recent run. My rule was to take turns I haven’t taken before. I discovered a new market, park, restaurant and a couple of great buildings.
THE FIRST TIME MINDFULNESS
I like to play a little mindfulness game when I’m doing things. I like to imagine this is the first time I’m doing that thing, and I’m approaching it with almost baby-like curiosity. It could be as simple as washing dishes.
Try to imagine you’ve never experienced fairly liquid foam before, or even hot water on your hands.
Try to pay attention to what materials like glass or stainless steel feel like.
You can apply the same curiosity to the other methods such as eating. Rather than devouring something mindlessly, imagine you never had it before, and you have no idea what the tastes are going to be like.
Practising mindfulness will help you be more in the moment even just for a short while. There is something rich in it. It helps you connect better with you, your emotions and perception.
Full disclosure: Even with all that, you’ll still want to slap people sometimes though. I sure do.
Enjoy the moment. Carpe Diem