Most of us find it hard to stay on top of our regular activities and commitments. Leading the fast-paced lives we do, it’s not surprising that many of us feel perpetually stressed out.
Mindfulness practices can ease stress and can even help to relieve some of the symptoms of anxiety. A recent study followed 93 individuals who dealt with generalized anxiety disorders. The researchers found that those who completed even one mindfulness-based stress reduction session showed a significant reduction in their symptoms.
A 30-minute mindfulness meditation session may seem at first glance to be the ideal option for helping us to calm down and regain focus. However, the truth is that even grabbing five minutes for a few deep breaths can feel like a luxury. But if we want to improve our well-being and cultivate a calm, focused mind, integrating a few simple mindfulness practices into our lives can definitely help. And it’s easy to do—we just have to know how and where to practice them.
Check out these three very quick and simple mindfulness practices that you can immediately include in your daily routine!
Mindfulness Practice 1: Practice Awareness
Becoming more fully present and cognizant of each of our daily actions and their consequences is enhanced by incorporating mindful awareness into our lives.
To cultivate this awareness, first consider something you do on a very regular basis—something like picking up the phone. Practice awareness with this very routine action, and each time you pick up your phone, stop for a second and notice where you are and how you’re feeling. Consider how this action (sending a text message to a loved one, checking Facebook, writing an email) will influence you and your mood. Take a second to appreciate the healthy hands that are holding the phone, as well as the brain that enables you to understand how the device works.
Consider something you do on a very regular basis—something like picking up the phone.
You can practice this exercise with any movement or experience—mindfulness is as appropriate with a physical action as it is with a felt emotion. In fact, the perfect opportunity to practice mindful awareness is when you’re feeling anger, fear, or embarrassment. Becoming mindful in those moments will help you learn to accept those emotions, instead of struggling against them. This makes it easier to process and release them, as resisting negative emotions only encourages them to persist for longer.
This exercise will discourage you from auto-piloting through life, helping you instead to cultivate purposeful awareness of who you are, where you are, and what you’re doing. As a result, you’ll likely find yourself growing calmer and more grounded.
2. Practice-Focused Breathing
We all breathe. And although it is essential for our survival, we can easily take it for granted. That creates a great opportunity to practice becoming more mindful!
You can begin mindful breathing by consciously taking a deep breath in and then out. Do this slowly. Three seconds in, and three seconds out; breath through your nose, if possible. Pay attention to the sensations you feel, and purposefully focus on your breathing as the air makes its way in and out of your body. If you find your mind wandering, bring your attention back to your breath. (Your to-do list for the rest of the day can wait.) Picture the air revitalizing your body as it enters your lungs, and dissipating into the environment around you as it leaves your nose.
Want to know what you’ve just been practicing? A mind-calming exercise we call meditation!
3. Practice Purposeful Observation
We often lose touch with the beauty of this world and all the wonder hidden in our natural environment. Mindful observation of our world can help us reconnect.
To make mindful observation part of your daily routine, choose one natural object within your line of sight. It could be something as simple as the clouds outside your window, a beloved pet, or even a potted plant in your office.
Now, simply focus on it. As you concentrate, look for the tiny details you normally would not notice (if it helps you to focus, you can say those details out loud). Pay careful attention, remembering that you’re part of that natural world, which is so much bigger than ourselves.
Connecting with a piece of nature can help us to feel harmony with the world around us. Focusing intently on one object helps to quiet the mind.
Final Thoughts Once you understand that mindfulness can be practiced at any time and in any place, cultivating it one moment at a time is not hard to do. Just incorporating these three simple mindfulness practices into your daily routine can help you be present in each moment of your life, and more in tune with the world around you. Such awareness is grounding, and it can create a feeling of wonderful calmness. It also can help you to cope well with everything life throws at you.
Practiced regularly, these exercises help to root the mind in the present moment. In addition to being present, mindfulness helps us to perform daily activities with greater calm, command, and open-mindedness.
Give these simple mindfulness practices a try. You might find they’re just what you need to quiet your mind, deepen your yoga practice, and become more in touch with who you truly are.