If you’ve heard the buzz about how mindfulness can boost your health, you may be wondering, “What’s the Deal?” Well, according to Dr. Jon Abat-Zinn, author and founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic, mindfulness is about “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” In other words, when you don’t frame your experiences within the context of your busy day, or in comparison with other people’s lives, you get to experience the world in a whole new way by being more mindful (hint: it’s a better one.)
Why is that? As you stop looking ahead, or backward, and just look at the here and now, you are less likely to feel worried or stressed. And, you are more likely to appreciate the beauty of what’s in front of you. Think about it: your child is taking 11 minutes to tie … One … SHOELACE!! But you don’t panic about how long the carpool line will be. You stop and appreciate the fact that, as she sits still, you get to really look at her. After all, she will only be this age for a minute. Suddenly, everything else matters much, much less.
That all sounds good, right? But how are you supposed to practice mindfulness when you are way too busy to just sit in one spot and reflect (a.k.a. meditate.) Never fear: you don’t have to set aside a separate time to be mindful. Instead, work it into specific parts of your daily routine (see our top tips below) and start reaping the benefits, simply by doing the tasks you already have to accomplish.
How to Practice Everyday Mindfulness
1. Really Pay Attention to Your Chores
Housework is the worst, right? But what if it was really an opportunity to focus on mindfulness?! Stick with us here … let’s say you’re folding laundry. What if you flipped your attitude and, rather than thinking about how you wish you could be elsewhere, you really focused on the task at hand. What if you took in the rainbow of colors in your folding stack? Or appreciated the cozy flannels and plush towels? Wouldn’t your ‘chore’ seem like less of a burden? And wouldn’t you want to transfer this new, mindful approach to other areas of your life?
Of course, there will still be moments when you’re annoyed by your task, or just plain bored. That’s fine — simply acknowledge what you’re feeling without getting worked up about it. Accepting your emotions and striving to get back to your appreciation of the moment is the toughest — but most important — part of everyday mindfulness.
2.Take a New Approach to Emailing
Email — we all have it, and we all spend a good chunk of our day reading and responding to the messages in those flooded inboxes. Once again, instead of getting panicky about the volume of correspondence you need to sift through, consider these bouts of writing as opportunities to be mindful. Try seeing that writing as a gift of connectedness, one that you will present to another person. And remember that, as with any gift, you must really consider how your recipient will react. To that end, stop and think before hitting the ‘compose’ or ‘send’ buttons. And, as you do, try this technique from MindfulMagazine:
While writing the email, stop and think: who is this going to and how would you like them to receive the message? Make sure your words are clearly understandable, and will not unintentionally lead to offense, anger, or even too much encouragement.
Next, review the draft of your email, thinking again about how you want to be understood and how your reader may perceive the message.
Finally, change anything that needs clarification and send your gift to the digital world. In this way, you’re far less likely to dash off unnecessary messages or trigger a digital argument. Now, think about a world where everyone practiced mindful emailing. You’d have a lot more time to do the things you really love. Which brings us to our next (and final) tip …
3. Do More of What You Love—and Relish the Moment
In the name of everyday mindfulness, why not make yourself this promise: I will do something that I really enjoy. Every day. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate activity: it could be something as simple as picking up your pet and enjoying a few minutes of cuddles. Want to know what will make this daily practice truly impactful? You guessed it … mindfulness!
Instead of rushing through your pet care, or whatever you’ve chosen to focus on, stop and savor what makes this time special. Listen to your cat’s rumbly purr; remember the rough feel of your dog’s tongue as she gives you all the kisses. And don’t think about how, soon, you’ll have to change the kitty litter or take your pooch out for a walk. Just be in the moment, and try to experience it like this is your very first time! In giving yourself permission to fully enjoy the good stuff, you’ll be building the valuable skills that help you find those silver linings, even when times get tough!