Mindfulness has been a buzzword in the wellness community for a while now, but it’s easy to mistake mindfulness for an all-day activity that requires hours of yoga and meditation. Mindfulness is actually much simpler than that.
The basic meaning of mindfulness is becoming more present, more aware of your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and surroundings; and view them with a nonjudgmental stance (observing without adding positive or negative meaning).You can practice mindfulness even if you only have a few minutes. Here are a few of my favorite quick mindfulness techniques.
Stop where you are and focus only on what you can see. Observe at least 5 things, pause at each one. Observe nonjudgmentally, and then move on. Now focus only on what you can smell, and try to identify 3 different things. Then pause at 3 things you can hear. 5 things you can touch. Finally, observe what you can taste.
The 5 Senses exercise is a great way to pause and be more present, as well as observe your surroundings. Starting with this exercise can jump start your mindfulness practice.
When your mind is racing or you’re feeling upset, trying Passing Thoughts can be really helpful. This is the practice of slowing down your thoughts and pausing at each one. Acknowledge your thought entirely, but then move on. Do not attach a positive or negative feeling to your thought.
No “I shouldn’t feel that” or “I wish I felt this” or “why can’t I think like this?”
Just acknowledge your thought for what it is and move on to the next thought. Pausing and moving on individually slows down that racing mind, and can sometimes even help you feel less upset but the end of the exercise. Stop whenever you are ready.
If you struggle with eating too quickly, mindful eating is a really valuable practice. The most important part of mindful eating is to ONLY eat. In other words, put away your phone, turn off your TV, get away from your work or laptop, etc. The only thing you can do other than eat is enjoy quality time with anyone else at your table.
Eat slowly, savoring each flavor, chewing fully, and pausing between bites. It can also be helpful to speak gratitude for your food, the farmers who grew it, the people who prepared it, the drivers who shipped it. If it’s very difficult to identify any human involvement in your packaged food, perhaps that’s an indicator to think about eating more whole foods!
Our brains tell us when we’re full. Eating too fast means that by the time our brain catches up with our eating and stomach, it can be too late and we’ve eaten too much. Mindful eating often helps people slow down and ultimately eat less.
Dry brushing is definitely another trend in the wellness community right now. But it can also be a great mindfulness exercise! Dry brushing is very simple. Get a brush specifically for dry brushing, or one that is typically used for back scratching and brushing. Any soft bristled brush can be great.
Undress to your level of comfort. Start on one end of your body; personally, I like to start at my feet. Brush slowly and mindfully focus on the sensation on your skin. Simply work your way up to your head, focusing on areas that feel dry, sore, etc. Mindful brushing can take a little longer than the other activities, probably a good 20 minutes if you’re really doing it slowly. But it can be so relaxing, especially before bed!
There are so many mindfulness techniques out there, these are just a few of my favorites! Remember: mindfulness is simply becoming more present and less judgmental. You can make almost ANY activity mindful, simply by putting away your phone and focusing on the present moment. I hope these are helpful for you and are useful on your journey to a more mindful living.