Simple Mindfulness Practices You Can Do Every day

Posted by Naomi Rohr on

We can guarantee that, just like most of us, you’ve had many-a-bad-day before, where you have acted in a way you wouldn’t usually do so. There can be times where the unexpected, or someone else’s bad mood, or even their over-enthusiasm can just burn your patience down to its last wicks end. And in these situations, it is unfortunately common for us as humans who all make mistakes, to snap or retaliate in a negative way. That doesn’t make you a bad person, it just makes you human. However, there are practices that you can undertake to guide you into becoming more mindful, even in these situations. We know, from experience that these practices have helped us to react with patience, and dignity, and kindness even on the worst of days.

1. Wake up mindfully

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Believe it or not, simply starting your day with a purpose and goal in mind, for the day ahead, will work wonders. This is because it means that you have an intention for that day’s actions. Often, when we act in a manner that is unintended, the internal reaction is that of a disconnection between the swift, unconscious whims of the lower brain centres, and the slower, mindful and critical thinking abilities of the higher centres like the prefrontal correct. By simply practicing waking up mindfully, with an intention for your day in mind, you can try to regulate your unconscious mind to be more aligned with your conscious thoughts.

This can allow you to cultivate your inner strength, gain a clarity of purpose, and achieve a frankly much calmer centre so that you can really meet every challenge a new day might throw at you. This means that even in times where you would be most frustrated, such as traffic or a set-back due to someone else’s mistake, you can react with compassion and mindful words or actions.

The best way to carry out this practice is almost instantly after you wake up. This means before you check any emails, before you look at your phone. Let this be what wakes you up.

  • Upon waking up, make sure that you are seated comfortably, whether it is on your bed or on a chair, or perhaps even on the floor if you are comfortable there. Be one with your body, feel those sensations that flow through your body as you are seated, feel the surroundings that are touching your body as you remain still and seated. Ensure that you are sitting straight, but relaxed (not slumped!).
  • Inhale and exhale three long and wholesome breaths. Make sure that you inhale through your nose, and exhale via your mouth. Listen to the pattern and rhythm that your breath settles into. Observe the movements that your chest and stomach make as they rise and fall with every breath.
  • Now, ask yourself what it is you seek to gain from your day that day, what is the purpose of that day? This question should be enough to set a clear goal in mind for your day. However, if you need further guidance, perhaps ask yourself the following questions as well:
    • What impact do I want to have on those around me today?
    • Is there an area of my mind that I believe I need to strengthen today?
    • What do I need to achieve today, in order to ensure that I am looking after myself too?
    • If I find myself in a situation where I would tend to react negatively, how can I react differently today, to be more positive?
  • Ensure that you check in with yourself and your intention throughout your day. This is very important as during the day it will be easy to lose your way and your intention. So, take a moment, take a breather and let yourself be reminded of your intention. A great motivation is to begin to take mental or written notes to yourself to see how over time your mindset shifts towards the intentions you desire to act with. It becomes easier to act with grace, or kindness, or compassion, or patience as you practice your mindful thinking.

2. Eat Mindfully:

Like most of us, you have probably eaten within the last few hours. But, again like most of us, we are guessing that you cannot remember everything that you have eaten today, nor can you remember the sensation it gave you as you ate it. Most of the time when we are eating, we are doing something else. This could be either watching television, or working on a project, a laptop in front of us, or even just devouring some food quickly while simultaneously trying to watch over your child/children. This mindless eating is more of a problem than what you think. In fact, it contributes greatly to that of the the obesity problem the world at large is facing.

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By practicing mindfulness, it means that you are focused on the present, the present activity, whether you are eating or with your children, or at work. You accept and feel your thoughts and sensations. By really focusing on the food that you are eating, preferably healthy choices most of the time, you can truly indulge and enjoy the sensation of any food that you are eating. Mindful eating encompasses being fully focused and fully aware of what you are eating, from the moment you buy it, to preparing it and to consuming it.

We recommend these following practices to fully be mindful of what you are eating and allow you to fully enjoy.

  • It all begins with your shopping list: Consider the actual benefits to your body that you gain by eating what you put on your list. Stick to your list, and avoid impulse buying. One way to avoid impulse buying is by focusing your attention and time on the produce section rather than those all alluring centre aisles.
  • Ensure that you are hungry but not starving before you begin your meal. By skipping meals, your body will be desiring anything and everything to fill it up. It means you will be more concerned about eradicating that starving feeling, rather than taking the time to enjoy your food.
  • Start small. We know it’s tempting if you are hungry to pile that food onto your plate. We have all heard of the expression your eyes are bigger than your stomach. And quite often, this is true! We recommend limiting your plate size to nine inches or less.
  • Appreciate your food. Make sure that you take a moment to breathe before starting your meal. Consider how it came to be on your plate, and all the people and work ethics it took to get there. Silently pause and reflect and express your gratitude that you have been blessed with such food and take a moment to look around you and appreciate your fellow companions that you are eating with.
  • Be aware of all of your senses. This applies to the moment you begin cooking, to the moment you actually eat your food. Be aware and consider its colouring, its texture, and even listen to the sounds each food makes as it is prepared. While chewing, try and pause and consider each taste, can you identify all the flavours? Especially the seasonings?
  • Chew A LOT: Unfortunately, in our rush to eat food quickly, fill that void, or just completely multiple tasks in front of us while we eat, we often inhale our food with the minimal amount of chewing. Make sure you are chewing until you can truly taste the essence of your food, and chew slowly! Chew up to 40 times, if you need to, depending on the food that you are eating. We can guarantee that you will be surprised as to just how many more flavours there are in your food than you originally thought. By chewing slowly, your food in front of you will last longer, and you will feel more satisfied, and fuller than when you barely register what it is you are throwing down to your stomach.

3. Notice, shift and rewire your brain

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Studies and research show that around 95% of the time our brain is running on autopilot. While we complete one task, we are already looking ahead to the next task, barely focusing on what we are doing in the present. We are constantly cutting corners, whether it’s eating, or exercising, or taking a moment of peace, to ensure that we can get our projects in life completed. This default setting is like setting your mind to be one of a super-highway, sending these fast and efficient, yet often unorganised and chaotic thoughts one direction to the next. It can allow us to fall into old behaviours before we even realise we are doing so. We can guarantee that at least once or twice during each day, you will feel that anxious and uneasy feeling creeping up on you. Anxiety about the pandemic, or what will happen if you lose your job because you didn’t perform this task well, or what happens if you can’t pay rent this week, or whether your friends feel like you aren’t listening. These worries are constantly taking you away from truly appreciating the current moment.

By practicing mindfulness, you can slow these superhighways down, ensure that you still get what you need to be done, done, but also have time to not take those shortcuts. This will allow you to be more present, really focusing on the task at hand instead of having to deal with the constant flow of thoughts that are already processing the next task ahead.

Your brain, when slow and in control, knows what is best for you. The crazed, hectic, fast part of your brain doesn’t, it does what is necessary to get by to the next problem. These practices will help you to rewire your brain to stay calm and be more positive and more central.

  • Make sure that you can’t miss it. This could mean putting that book you’ve been wanting to sit and enjoy beside the kettle, so that when you make your tea or coffee in the morning, you might take the time out to sit and read and enjoy your cup of tea outside perhaps. Or put your yoga mat or exercise equipment in the way of where you would usually sit to start your emails, so that it acts as a reminder to take some time out to focus on your body.
  • Remind, remind, remind. Don’t let that autopilot take back its control. Constantly remind yourself of your goal of practicing mindfulness to let the slower more controlled part of your brain be in control. Whether you need alarms set on your phone, or sticky notes where you can see them, but change them up each day. Set something that will inspire and remind you for today, not for tomorrow.
  • Be prepared. Set yourself into a pattern, whereby if you see an incoming call from work, take a moment to take three nourishing breaths before you answer. Or if your children are making you want to scream into the nearest pillow, take a moment just to calmly step away from the situation, take a deep breath and remind yourself of how little they are, and how big their feelings are. At the end of the day, if you can calmly navigate the situation, you won’t focus on this, you will be focusing on their happy smiles if you can successfully stay mindful through the storm.

4. Mindfully work-out each morning:

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Yes, your running trainers, or perhaps your weights could well be covered in dust if you have been neglecting your self-care. However, you should be able to remember that feeling of capability, of strength that you felt when you covered a few kilometres in an outdoor run. Or perhaps you’ll remember that feeling of power and worthiness when you hit a new level of weights to lift or beat a personal best. A good workout can help us to be in that moment, aware of our every moment and the beat of our heart as we apply our body to be productive in the present. Believe it or not, during your workouts, this is possibly where you have been practicing mindfulness without even really realising it. It might well be one of the reasons you enjoy working out once you get into the swing of it. However, there are ways to further these mindful habits, ones that you can practice to really get the most out of your workouts.

  • Be aware of a goal that you want to realise during your workout: It doesn’t matter if the goal is large or small, it just has to be about that exact moment, and those exact sensations that you can feel from your work out. For example, you may merely aim to feel the way the water surrounds you as you take each stroke, listening to the sounds that the water makes as you swim through it. It could be that you want to focus on the feeling of your muscles at work while you perform some new lunges, or perhaps you want to focus on the scenery that surrounds you as you make your way through a forest run. Whatever it is, make that your goal, and focus on that throughout your workout.
  • Warm up: This is simple really? It only requires as little as five minutes of your time, and more than likely you have always warmed up before a good exercise already. Try to get moving, whether you are stretching or performing some wild energetic dance moves, just get moving. One great warm up technique is to try and harmonise the rise and fall of your breath to your movements.
  • It’s all about the Rhythm: Find your rhythm, your flow as your workout gets underway. Make sure that you are working to a higher intensity as you progress throughout your workout. Keep focusing on harmonising your breathing and your movements.
  • Push the limit: Once you feel ready, push yourself to see if you can run faster, swim harder, dance wilder, than what you were doing. The feeling of exhilaration and strength that comes with this moment is quite thrilling. This is the moment where you will feel at your most confident.
  • Allow a cool down period: Don’t just come to a crashing halt. Whatever it is that you are doing, bring yourself to slow it down. Really focus on your breathing steadily slowing down until it feels easier to breathe, and until you come to a steady stop. Take this moment to look up however, don’t look down, soak in your environment.
  • Rest: Continue to engage in mindful practice as you run through some stretches. Quietly soak in your surroundings, what can you see around you? Allow that feeling of pride and accomplishment to run its course through you. You deserve it. Try to focus on what feelings you are encountering at that moment, let them have their moment and just quietly consider each one.

Focus on only one task at a time

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In this day and age, it is so easy to feel as though we are struggling to keep all of our juggling balls up in the air at one time. However why not just remove yourself from the stress altogether? Set those juggling hands down and take each ball, focus on it, complete it, then move on. It may seem as though there are multiple things to balance at once, but these practices will help you to be mindful and aware that there is only so much we can accomplish, and will help us to feel more in control of those situations where we ultimately feel like we could lose control.

  • Invest in a new planner: That’s right, we’ve said it. Don’t get rid of your old planner altogether but just invest in a new one so that you can start afresh, just as your mind needs to reset. Let your mind feel clear as you look at the fresh new sheets of paper that will help you to set those juggling balls down and set them in order.
  • Limit your ‘to do’s: Again, you may be questioning this, but really how much can one person do in one day? Limit yourself to realistic expectations. What is most important and has to be definitely done that day. Write it down and focus on one task at a time, once that task is complete, cross it off and move onto the next one. Believe it or not, taking on too many tasks can actually result in you being less efficient and bring about less than desired results. By focusing on the task at hand with your full concentration and mindfulness, can mean that the job will be completed with less mistakes and will more than likely be finished quicker than when you were juggling multiple projects.
  • Take a mindful, and relaxing break: Once you have finished one task at hand, allow yourself five minutes, or even half an hour to an hour if you feel your body requires it, before getting stuck into the next task. Allow the breaks to consist of measuring your steady breaths and truly relaxing into your surroundings. Avoid scrolling through social media, as this can often only alleviate stress and pass time until you feel like you need to get back to work and yet haven’t had a break at all. By truly taking some relaxing time between each task, you will be able to focus better on the next task.

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