I don't need to describe to you how fast paced life is – we're all living it, and feeling the effects of it. Our schedules are packed from the sun up to sundown. There is a constant list of to do's nagging at us in the back of our minds. There is all kinds of noise in our head – literal noise from the radios and televisions surrounding us, as well as the noise in our heads from the past and thoughts of the future.
How is a person supposed to be present and calm when we're feeling pulled in so many directions?
Two steps before we get started
The first step is to admit that we're running ragged! We may not be running all the time, but we know that in the small pockets of free time that we have, we're getting distracted by the minor things (I'm lookin' at you social media!) and not fully investing in the major things (which usually aren't things)!
The second step is to bring awareness to your body. It's easy to just plow through our days doing what we always do without giving it a second thought. Without making any changes to your daily schedule, just start becoming aware of how your body holds stress. Do your shoulders hunch? Are you breathing fast and shallow? Are your eyebrows furrowed?
3 Simple Ways to Add Daily Mindfulness
If you can relate, I want to share three simple ways to add daily mindfulness to your schedule. Mindfulness doesn't require any equipment and usually only takes a few minutes, but it can have a powerful effect on your relationships, your emotions, and your mindset.
I think most of us are aware of the benefits of deep breathing…but how often do we actually do it? Our natural breathing pattern is shallow and in our chest. It takes intentionally pausing and choosing to breathe from our bellies because it's not a natural breathing pattern for us.
Take 3 deep belly breaths.
- The important part is to get air all the way down to your belly.
- To know if you are doing that, place your hand lightly on your belly.
- Breathe in for 4 counts, hold it for 2 counts, and breathe out for 4 counts.
- You should feel and see your hand rising and falling as you breathe in and out.
- Repeat 3 times.
Everyone can do it. It doesn’t require you to change anything about your circumstances at work or home. It just requires you to take a minute and do it. It’s simple, effective, and accessible.
Increase the amount of silence in your day. It doesn't have to be an hour long – it can be five minutes or less, especially if you're starting from zero.
Silence can be uncomfortable. We can find ourselves thinking thoughts and feeling emotions that we're trying to avoid. I remember after my dad passed away eleven years ago, I watched a lot of television. I didn't want to talk to anyone. I didn't want to feel the sadness and loss. So I turned on television as soon as the kids were in bed and numbed myself through show after show.
Too often we reach for our headphones, or the remote control, or our phones when we have a minute of downtime. Try to just sit, or walk, or do your activity in silence.
In practicing silence, we're limiting the input from outside sources and allowing ourselves to be in the moment. Which leads me to the final point…
Use Your Senses
While you're practicing silence, use your senses. Observe what you see around you. Note what you hear. What do you feel against your skin? Do you taste anything in your mouth?
Your senses are present focused, so when you're thoughts are spinning as you think about the past or the future, come back to your senses and make simple observations.
What This Could Look Like
If this is the first time you're reading about mindfulness, this could sound strange to you – or it could sound very appealing. I encourage to try it out and see if it helps you to bring some peace through your day.
You could intentionally practice this in the morning for five minutes when you first wake up. Before getting out of bed, place your hand on your lower belly and take three full belly breaths. While you're doing that, do it in silence and simply use your senses as you're lying there.
You can use this practice when you're feeling frazzled during the day. If you feel impatient or upset and recognize that you want to yell at your kids or coworkers, separate yourself from the situation. Sit down or stand somewhere that you can take a minute and take three full belly breaths. Afterward, stay there and observe what is going on around you using your senses.
You can also link this practice with an already established part of your day. Do you make a cup of coffee every morning or a cup of tea in the afternoon? Every time you do that, take three deep belly breaths and enjoy your drink in silence while noting the things around you using your senses.
Does this sound like something you're willing to try? Do you have other simple ways that you already bring mindful moments to your day? I'd love to know in the comments!