If the idea of starting a meditation practice feels daunting, there are ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life simply and naturally, while doing what you’re already doing each day. Start by paying attention to your senses while you do you each day.
While doing indoor chores…
…such as washing dishes: Pay attention to the water as it pours out of the faucet. Just watching the water can be a form of meditation. Really let yourself feel the water and its temperature. Smell the soap. Watch it bubble. Feel the sponge as you squeeze it in your hand.
Some other indoor household tasks where you can pay extra attention to being present and use your senses to help bring calm to yourself are:
Dusting or wiping anything down
When you eat or drink:
Mindful eating has been shown to aid healthy digestion and weight loss.
Turn off distractions: put your phone away from the table, eat away from a TV or computer. Take small bites. Spend more time chewing than might be usual for you. Really pay attention to the taste; notice the texture, the temperature, the spices.
Get outside! Go for a walk:
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Feel each step: how firm the ground is as each foot lands. Feel the shift in your step as you go uphill and again when heading back downhill. Notice as your heartbeat and breathing increase and decrease.
Focus on what’s around you: how tall the trees are, branches swaying, leaves falling, flowers blooming, birds chirping, clouds reshaping, the breeze blowing, or even the still and humid air. Wherever your senses want to go, let them. Take in the sights, sounds, scents and feelings. Pick up a rock, hold it, feel it. Run your hand along a tree trunk. Notice the texture of each.
Walk barefoot in the grass: feel the cool blades of grass under your feet. Step onto the hot sidewalk when the sun is out in the warmer months – ouch! Don’t stay there long, but let your feet feel it. Walk through puddles. If a creek is near, be still and let the water run over your feet.
Or have a seat outside and notice aspects of the world around you as it spins. Are you by the ocean? In the mountains? The jungle? Even more for you to explore with your senses and to become mindful with.
Some outdoor chore ideas for integrating mindfulness:
Water the grass or flowers with a hose or watering can (even if you have sprinklers)
Shovel snow (and stop to make snowballs, if time allows)
Plant flowers or seeds, or just dig in the dirt
Mow the lawn
While you wait:
At a doctor appointment
Waiting in line at the grocery store (or any checkout line), the Costco gas station, the DMV or post office
When meeting a friend for dinner
Sitting in traffic
At the airport or waiting to get off the plane (also: when taking a bus, Uber, train, ferry – you get the idea)
Try to be mindful throughout the day. It does not need to be constant, but whenever you think of it, pause and give it a try. In fact, it is better to start out with a few minutes here and there than to try and spend an extended period of time being mindful.
Some other tips to keep in mind as you work toward being more mindful:
Slow down and do one thing at a time. We often find ourselves multi-tasking in our busy lives. We have so much to do and what feels like such little time to do it all. We may even pride ourselves on our ability to manage so many things all at once or to accomplish something so quickly. But does it ever help to make us feel more whole or more at peace? Even if we do something well, when we are rushing through we aren’t able to be truly present. When we slow down, pause, and focus on one thing in the moment, we are able to experience and appreciate it more. If the things you have to do don’t feel like things you want to do, you may be surprised at how much more enjoyment you find in them when you are more present with them.
Check in with your body. Do you feel tension or tightness anywhere? If you pay attention to it, can you allow it to release and loosen? Observe your thoughts and feelings without judgment. You are allowed to feel things; you are allowed to have whatever thoughts come to mind. Be kind and loving to yourself. Be patient.
Pick a prompt to remind you to be mindful. We often get wrapped up in our routines and busyness and forget even the best intentions we may have. Utilizing a prompt can be a great reminder to integrate mindfulness into our daily lives. There are various apps that you can download to your phone that allow you set times to be reminded to be mindful, breathe, or meditate (Mindfulness Bell app, Lotus Bud Mindfulness Bell, Chill, Mindfulness Daily -each of these are free). You can also use your timer or clock on your phone to set an alarm. Or (and especially if you’re trying to steer away from using technology to be mindful) you can use Post-it Notes or stickers. Place them wherever you want to be reminded to pause and be more present. They don’t even need to say anything; just the fact that you see a sticker or a Post-it will be your indication.
The more often you remember to be mindful and allow yourself to do so, the more natural it will become, and therefore, the time spent being mindful will increase naturally.