If you’ve been online for more than about five minutes, you’ve probably seen someone talking about mindfulness, and how you should practice it daily. But exactly what is mindfulness and how do you actually do it?
What is mindfulness?
According to the Oxford Dictionary, mindfulness is:
the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? But how do you get into that state? Here are five easy ways to practice mindfulness every day.
Set intentions to be more mindful
Setting intentions has proven to be more effective than self-motivation in terms of actually getting stuff done. It’s basically about you deciding how you’re going to show up each day.
What kind of day are you going to have? How do you want to show up to have the greatest impact? What can you do to take better care of yourself? How can you feel more committed and fulfilled? During hard moments, how can you act with compassion toward yourself and others?
Make deliberate choices
Don’t make knee-jerk reactions to situations that arise. Stop. Take a breath. Then assess the situation fully before you come to a decision. Basically, you want to act, rather than react.
You can start practicing making deliberate choices with something as simple as breakfast. Do you want some of your kids’ Cinnamon Toast Crunch, or would you rather have Raisin Bran? A sliced apple with peanut butter or a green smoothie?
Or do you want to skip breakfast altogether – not because you’re in a rush and don’t have time, but because you’ve chosen to only eat when you’re hungry?
Stop living your life on autopilot. Observe the world around you and interact with it through executive functioning.
Executive functioning includes things like willpower, deliberate decisions, and intentional actions. Practicing executive function activities promotes neuroplasticity — the brain’s ability to grow and reshape itself.
Neuroplasticity is what makes us able to learn, to remember, to be who we are. It’s the very core of being human.
Engage all 5 senses
Have you ever been to a county fair? If ever there was a place to engage all 5 senses, it’d be there. You can hear the music playing, the hum of the crowd, the call of an auctioneer, and the bleating of animals.
You can touch the goods for sale, the asphalt or dirt beneath your feet, the press of other bodies around you.
Smell the animals, the sunscreen you’re wearing, the sweat of the crowd.
See the children riding on daddy’s shoulders, the games of chance, the rows upon rows of parked cars.
Taste the feta fries, the funnel cakes, the hot dogs, and the deep fried Twinkies — though hopefully not all simultaneously!
The county fair is a microcosm of the human experience, but you can engage all five senses throughout your day as well.
Slow down and appreciate your meals. Savor the taste and texture in your mouth. Relish in the scent, adding to the taste. Appreciate how your food looks on the plate. Listen to the crunching and crackling as you chew.
One simple way to mindfully eat is to put your fork down after you take a bite. Chew slowly. After you swallow, take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Then pick up your fork and take another bite.
If you struggle with mindfulness, especially with mindful productivity, let’s get together and see if and how I can help you. Hop on my scheduler at ScheduleOnce.com/Kriss to book a discovery call.
For more on mindfulness, check out My five notebook journal system to improve mindfulness, Meditation — what is it and how to do it, and Even bad meditation is good for you.