How often does it happen that...
If you’re like most people, you will recall multiple instances of the same. A lot of us may realize that we are functioning in an autopilot mode. When we’re so preoccupied, we’re not really present and paying attention to the process. A different way of engaging with our life then is mindfulness. Practising mindfulness teaches us to pause and gain perspective in our present life.
Mindfulness refers to focusing on the present moment. It involves paying complete attention to the here-and-now, whatever you may be doing. You may notice that a lot of the time, we're caught up in things that have already happened or worry about things that are going to happen in the future (where a lot of our stress often comes from). By practicing mindfulness, we teach our minds to be present and aware.
Another important component of mindfulness is non-judgment. What it implies is that you notice things, your thoughts, and feelings as they are without responding or reacting to it. Just letting it be. (There is no right or wrong way to feel!).
Developing the habit of non-judgmentally observing our thoughts and feelings can help not get caught up in them and not react to the same, a tool that can be of help during moments of distress.
There's no one way to practice mindfulness. While some people prefer having a formal practice, others prefer an informal practice and simply focus their attention on whatever comes up.
Some guided mindfulness practices include,
Mindfulness can be practised at any moment, even in the middle of your very busy day. If you don’t have the time to devote yourself to something new, practise what you're doing already in a more mindful way. While practising mindfulness, it is natural to feel distracted initially. Noticing that you’re distracted is a good step too. Be gentle with yourself and bring your attention back to the task and tune in to your senses. However small, start the practice and then build on it.
Mindful breathing: Focus on the sensation of the breath as you breathe in and out. The process of slowing down while exhaling can also help calm your body and help you gain more clarity. You can choose any time during your day to take a couple of moments to consciously take a couple of breaths.
Mindful eating: Pay attention to what you’re eating. Get rid of other distractions- keep your phone, book, and other things away. Focus on the food item, its look, colour, texture, the sensation of actual eating, etc.
Mindful listening: Pay complete attention to the different sounds around you. Listen intently to the next song you play. Let yourself be absorbed in every word, tune of it.
Mindful walking: Again, next time you’re walking, pay attention to that act. Notice how your feet feel against your footwear and the ground, how the air feels against you, the things around you in your environment, different sensations in your body, etc.
Walked mindfully to class
Spent some minutes in nature/ by the lake without distractions
Spent a couple of minutes practicing mindful breathing
Ate my meal mindfully
Was mindful during a conversation with a friend
Listened to a song mindfully
Took a mindful bath
Took an intentional mindful walk
Went to bed mindfully
Took the stairs mindfully
Chose a random time during the day and spent two minutes mindfully
Drank my (beverage) mindfully
Exercised without music or other distractions
Watched the sunrise/sunset mindfully
Stretched intentionally and paid attention to how that felt
Brushed mindfully (could also try it with your non-dominant hand!)
De-cluttered my desk/bag etc. so I can focus better
Moved the apps on my phone so I am not mindlessly accessing them
Paused and took mindful breaths before each lecture
Was intentional with my social media usage. Noticed my urge to continue scrolling and other emotions that came up for me.
Walked barefoot and paid attention to the different sensations
Spent time creating something I like
Gave myself/ someone else a compliment
Noticed different categories like shapes and colours (eg. everything red)
Wrote a gratitude letter
Spent time colouring/ making a mandala
Ate a piece of chocolate mindfully
Noticed three things I could smell
Touched different objects and noticed the difference in textures