Mindfulness is a buzzword these days, with mentions in newspapers, magazine covers, and on social media. There are numerous advantages to practising mindfulness, and many individuals have found it to be beneficial in their own lives. When you think about mindfulness, you might think of formal sitting meditation, however we can practise mindfulness at any time and in any location. There are numerous ways to learn how to be mindful in everyday life, but first, let’s define mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
In Buddhist teachings, mindfulness is a trait that can be best described as awareness and recognition. The cultivation of consciousness into the Three Marks of Existence is one of the fundamental goals of mindfulness meditation.
We are aware of our current experience in mindfulness and can discern whether it is generating suffering or liberation. For example, we may become aware that we are experiencing anger (awareness) and that this anger is causing pain in our own lives and possibly in the lives of others (recognize). This second aspect of mindfulness is often overlooked, yet it is crucial.
The Buddha spoke extensively about mindfulness, with the most famous teachings being found in the Satipatthana, or Four Establishments of Mindfulness. The Buddha taught mindfulness of the body, awareness of the mind, mindfulness while walking, and a variety of other significant teachings here.
How to Be More Mindful in Your Day-to-Day Life:
We wrote an article called 8 Ways to Bring Mindfulness to Daily Life a few years ago, and it was one of our most popular at the time. So we decided to expand on it, add some new ideas, and update the post!
Triggers of Awareness:
We’ve written a lot about this concept, but it’s because it’s something we love doing in our own life! An awareness trigger is something that happens on a regular basis in your life that you utilise as a reminder to practise mindfulness. When your chosen event occurs, you can return to your body, take a few focused breaths, or simply tune in to whatever is occurring in your experience with open awareness.
Anything can be used as an awareness trigger. It might be something simple like brushing your teeth, driving, or doing the dishes. It could also be anything that happens without your knowledge or consent, such as hearing a phone ring (or vibrate), hearing a car horn, or witnessing a non-human animal. Make sure your trigger is something that happens on a frequent basis in your daily life!
Take a walk and meditate
You can always turn to walking meditation, as we discussed in our recent post 5 Simple Ways to Practice Meditation at Work. You can also practise moving meditation if you don’t walk or are unable to do so. To get a better understanding of the practise, try a guided walking meditation first, although you can do it at any time during the day. One of our favourite mindfulness exercises is mindful walking, which can be a really effective practise.
Simply bringing your awareness to the physical sensations as your body moves is a good start. What sensations do you have in your body as you walk? Perhaps you’ve noticed the feet rising off the ground and softly descending. You might be able to feel your legs, hips, and abs working hard to keep you going. There is no correct or incorrect response. You can make use of the time you spend going from your car to work, from your house to the bus, or on your evening dog walk around the block.
Examine the Human Body:
Body scans are an excellent exercise that you can engage in at any time. A body scan is the process of travelling through the body to examine what’s there. This is something you can do while sitting at your desk, walking, or resting in bed. The body is always there, always available, and always changing. During the day, reconnect to where you are by tuning into your body for a few moments.
You can complete a formal body scan without anyone knowing you’re meditating during the day. Begin from the crown of your head and work your way down to your toes. Take note of what appears. What sensations do you have in your body? Below is a body scan meditation that you can try to get a feel for the practise before putting it into practise in public!
Take a Walk:
Mindfulness doesn’t have to be strenuous, exhausting, or difficult. We have the ability to be soft and relaxed. Try going on a stroll with the goal of practising mindfulness. Thich Nhat Hanh, a superb meditation teacher, is a big proponent of mindful walking, and we learnt it at his monastery in San Diego.
Instead of practising a walking meditation when you slow down and focus on each movement of your body, focus on the world around you. There isn’t anything specific you need to do. Take note of the sounds, colours, movement, nature, man-made items, fragrances, and anything else that comes into your awareness. While on the road, this can be a terrific way to release some energy, relax, and build awareness.
Mindful speaking can be practised in a variety of ways, but it is an important one. It’s one of the tenets of the Noble Eightfold Path and a key component of the Five Precepts, a set of five training principles for lay Buddhists. We spend so much of our time communicating with others that it only makes sense to apply mindfulness to one of our primary modes of communication!
Simply being aware of what you’re saying and if it’s useful is enough to practise mindful communication. Slowing down your speech is one technique that might be quite beneficial. Is what you say correct? Is it practical and beneficial? Is this the appropriate time to tell it? It’s not always a black-and-white investigation, and we must use caution. To find out, try focusing on your words. You can also listen to the “speech” via text, email, and social media! This is a fantastic approach to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine.
We utilise mindful listening in our own lives, devoting time to truly create a relationship in which the other is heard. You can do this at any time without anyone seeing that you are making an attempt to listen attentively. Listen intently to what the other person has to say. Try to listen solely for the sake of listening, rather than anticipating a response.
You could try to become more aware of the other person’s words, their experience, or the emotion that underpins them. You can also pay attention to your own body and mind to see what responses arise. By practising mindful listening, you can notice when someone says something that makes you feel worried or furious. We get much better through time and with regularity, much like the other practises on this list.
Keep it Simple:
From time to time, we’re all victims of monkey mind. We find ourselves on autopilot, not truly deciding what we are doing as our minds jump from activity to task. When learning to be aware, one practise you might try is to simplify, especially when it comes to getting things done. I know I listen to podcasts or music while working or driving, but it can also be beneficial to focus only on the subject at hand.
Try to focus on something without being distracted. Distraction will inevitably develop in the mind, but don’t welcome it in! Develop a mind that can focus on just one subject at a time. We find that when we practise this, we are able to collect our thoughts and focus more easily in the future. We can use our tasks to practise samatha, or focused meditation.
Yes, technology should be utilised. We may utilise our computers, phones, smart speakers, and other devices to help us be more conscious. There are various methods to remain attentive, and while this may appear goofy at first, it is effective. Set reminders to halt and be thoughtful throughout the day. You can either set a moderate alarm for a specific time or use one of the many applications available that allow you to set random alarms throughout the day. When the alarm goes off, take a few moments or minutes to practise mindfulness.
Return to the Breath:
On course, no discussion of meditation would be complete without mentioning the breath. The breath, like the body, is always with us. You can come back to body breathing at any point during the day, focusing on sensations across the body or in a single area. Of course, you know you’re breathing, but how does it feel to breathe right now?
Right now, concentrate on the one breath in front of you. Try to stay with it from the beginning of your inhale to the finish of your exhale. You might concentrate on the stomach, chest, or nostrils. The overriding sense of the body breathing can also be felt. Here’s a quick breath-focused guided meditation to try.
There are a variety of techniques to practise mindfulness when lying down in bed. Use your time in bed as an opportunity to practise mindfulness, whether it’s in the morning before getting out of bed or in the evening before going to sleep. Feel your body’s contact with the bed, your breathing, and where your thoughts is at.
You can connect with an objective for the day when meditating in the morning. You can tune into the sense of energy settling at night. The mind and body may still be active after we go to bed. As they drift off to sleep, try focusing your attention to the energy in each of them.
Eating is an important activity that we engage in on a regular basis, and it may be used as a mindfulness exercise. Instead of eating in front of the internet or the television, strive to be fully present as you eat to bring mindfulness into your daily life. Pay attention to where the food came from, the effort that went into getting it to you, and the energy that went into making it happen. When you’re eating, pay attention to the flavours, textures, and sensations you’re having.
If you’re interested in learning more about mindful eating, Thich Nhat Hahn and Dr. Lilian Cheung’s book Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life is a great place to start. It’s a fantastic book written by two competent people that can help you see eating as a mindfulness practise in your life.
Many of us, especially when it comes to our mindfulness or spiritual practises, use the shower as a time to zone out. We sing, let our minds wander, or simply turn off. Instead, turn your bathing time into a time of meditation. Allow yourself to be fully immersed in the shower sensation.
Take note of how the water feels against your skin. As the shower running, pay attention to the sounds. As you wash and rinse, pay attention to your physique. Because physical feelings are intense in the shower, you don’t need to do much other than receive whatever comes into your awareness!
The Meditation Break:
We sometimes hesitate to take a break because we have a lot of work to complete. If you find it useful to take a break, you should know that doing so actually increases productivity. It is also a humane act that allows the mind and body to relax, reset, and regenerate. You can meditate for a few minutes at any time during the day.
The after-lunch break, in particular, is quite beneficial to me. In the afternoon, I, like many others, start to feel tired. Taking a five-minute break to meditate can make a significant difference. All we have to do is remind ourselves that it will benefit us in the long term, and not believe the lies that we don’t have time for a vacation!
Being creative can help us grow mindfulness in our everyday lives. Try engaging your artistic side if you’re seeking for a fun method to be more aware. Make music, write poetry, grow a garden, draw or doodle, or work on a project. It doesn’t have to be a work of art, and you don’t have to show it to anyone else.
Spending time being creative has the wonderful side effect of allowing us to be genuinely present. When you’re doing something creative, bring it back to the current moment. Allow yourself to be present in the moment, allow your creativity to flow, and use it as a learning tool. Remember to be kind with yourself and to have some fun!
Slowing down can certainly help us be more conscious, but try truly stopping. Relax in your chair for a few minutes while sitting on a park bench or watching the sunset. To practise mindfulness, we don’t need to engage in a traditional meditation practise. Simply come to a halt and be where you are. Don’t listen to the voices in your head telling you to do anything, and don’t go into autopilot mode.
You can do this whenever you have a few spare moments during the day. You don’t have to wait till you’re in a beautiful or tranquil location. Simply come to a halt, allow the energy of the day to settle, and do nothing. Allow yourself to feel whatever manner you’re feeling. This may be a very grounding practise, as it brings us back to the present moment while also slowing down the mind.