Are you living mindfully? There’s a lot of noise out there about mindfulness and the techniques and why you should pursue this, but what does it mean, really? Simply, it means being present in the moment. How do we do that? We have to let go of the stress of what’s happening right now in our life and find the time to focus on a few moments of meditation.
Sounds easy? Yeah, not so much. It’s a process, like anything else, where you have to learn a new habit. The health benefits of practicing mindfulness are better sleep, less stress, even weight loss. The trick is not to put too much pressure on yourself to make it happen right away, but to ease yourself into it and try to approach it in a way that is enjoyable to you. Here are a few tips:
- Turn off the negative committee in your head. Yep, that’s it. Speak kindly to yourself in a moment where you would beat yourself up. Would you speak to someone else this way right now? Recognize it, that’s a step towards a more meditative you.
- Think about what’s happening in your body. When I am teaching yoga, I encourage my students to take note of where they are at the beginning of class, and then again at the end. What feels different? So try that little exercise on a 10 minute break at the office. Close your door or put on your headphones. Where are you feeling stress? Can you take a few minutes of deep breathing to calm yourself? How is your body feeling?
- Stretch it out. Stand up or stay in your chair, take some deep breaths and stretch. To release the tension in your shoulders and neck, try doing a seated Half Moon pose (pictured).
- Look at one object and keep your focus on it. If you start getting distracted, come back to the object.
- Try a calming playlist. I love the music Moby created for himself to help him sleep. I also have some Binaural beats that I use and a few programmed calming channels on a free version of Pandora. I even have a sleep playlist on my iPod that I never get all the way through, but it immediately starts to calm my body down because it knows what that music means (thanks Norah Jones).
- Take a walk. Get out in nature. Leave the office for a few minutes for a walk around the block and some sunshine. Take your pups out for a stroll. Hold the hand of your loved one and talk about your day. These are all ways to be present in that moment, and get your mind off of whatever is keeping it racing.
- Use a Guided App or Web app to help you out. I switch between several, depending on what I need at that moment. Do I need someone to guide me through a meditation, or just some white noise? Here’s a picture of some of the apps that are my go-to’s for some mindfulness.
- Just breathe. How about that! I find myself holding my breath a lot, so I practice my breathing while I’m driving or trying to fall asleep. It comes in handy in a stressful situation, so really, even though it sounds weird, practice it. For example, I had to get an MRI the other day, and I am claustrophobic. They slid me into that tube and I was already doing my deep breathing exercises. It was still hard, but that really helped.
So, like anything you want to be good at, it takes practice. Here’s hoping that one of those things resonates for you and helps your transition to a healthier you, mentally AND physically. And don’t be too hard on yourself if you feel like you aren’t getting it or it’s not happening fast enough. What is good for one person may not be what’s right for you. Remember, baby steps, one day at a time.