Text messages, work challenges, soccer practices, traffic jams — the hustle and bustle of daily life can make it all too easy to miss what’s really important. While looking forward to a vacation or your next promotion might add anticipatory joy, the reality is (and as the saying goes) — “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
So how do you create more mindfulness in your life on the go? Mindfulness is so much more than sitting in a lotus position meditating. It’s about remembering to be aware of your journey through life, regardless of how insignificant things may seem. Here are twelve tips to help you live a more mindful life.
1. Take time to listen. When was the last time you finished a conversation not remembering what the other person said? Many times, our brains are shoved so full of information, schedules, and activities that it’s easy to get caught up in our own little worlds and forget about others around us. The next time you meet a friend for coffee, challenge your mind to slow down so you can really pay attention to those around you.
2. Don’t cave to FOMO. FOMO, or the fear of missing out, is what drives us to go meet friends when all we really want to do is binge watch Netflix on the couch. Instead of caving in and ignoring your wants and needs, take a moment to figure out why you want to go to that party/bar/birthday/event, and then ask yourself if you would rather do something else instead. Don’t ever feel pressured to do something when your body is telling you “no”!
3. Define what meditation is to you. Meditation is not necessarily confined to yoga, special hand formations, and quiet humming. In fact, it comes in all forms, and hobbies that you enjoy are probably among the best forms of meditation. Make your favorite activity a priority during your free time, and whether it’s reading, listening to music, going on a walk, or journaling, doing these activities with a mindful attitude is an excellent way to be present in the moment.
4. Chew your food. The next time you eat, turn off your phone, pull up a chair, and sit down at the table to enjoy your meal. Not only will this allow you to slow down, but it will also help you appreciate your dish. With each bite of food, force yourself to chew slowly, as this simple act will gently remind you to eat mindfully. Plus, research shows the more you chew your food the better you will digest it!
5. Don’t shy away from feelings. Mindfulness isn’t about being happy all day, every day; it’s about completely accepting the present moment just as it is. That means feeling everything exactly at that moment, without trying to ignore or control it.
6. Protect and nurture yourself. Be a good custodian of your mind and body by discerning what is nourishing and what is draining. By paying careful attention to what you’re eating, how much you’re resting, and how active you are, you’re training yourself to be mindful of your physical needs. In the same way, try feeding your mind with positive things (self-motivating podcasts or uplifting books) instead of social media “chatter” or excessive TV.
7. Cook family meals together. Cooking (and eating) together strengthens the family bond, creates memories, and increases laughter — all of which are vital for healthy relationships. In fact, data on family meals matter is positively overwhelming in terms of nourishing the spirit, brain, and health of all family members. Get the whole family cooking with my kebabs — everyone can participate in assembling the recipe.
8. Be aware of your limitations. Everyone has limitations, but the difference between knowing and recognizing them are two different things. When you recognize and acknowledge your personal limits, you will be able to set boundaries that are vital for a mindful and healthy lifestyle.
9. Listen to hunger cues. Have you ever gone hours without eating only to end up with an angry, protesting tummy? This is your body’s way of letting you know that you need food to function at peak performance. So, the next time you feel hungry, try paying attention to how your body feels when it’s on the cusp of hunger, and ask yourself if you’re hungry because you’re bored or if you’re hungry because your body physically needs fuel. These questions will help you respect your body while being mindful of your hunger cues.
10. Mind the gaps. Our daily lives are so hectic — between running to meetings, taking phone calls, and managing schedules, we’re always on the go. It’s hard to find gaps of space in our days, so pause and create them instead. Let the phone ring a few times before you answer. Listen to the silence in-between your favorite songs. Smell the fragrant coffee before pouring a fresh cup. It may not seem like much, but this small practice helps cultivate a mindful life while being present during everyday events.
11. Eat with intention. If you’ve ever grabbed dinner with no thought other than “it’s convenient,” you’re not alone. It’s easy to eat without thinking, which is why training your mind to fully focus on why you eat what you eat is so important. When you switch your focus from eating for convenience to eating what will nourish your body, the entire mentality changes and you start to become more mindful with what you consume.
12. Take a tech break. It’s so easy to fall into the social media “trap”, so try and make time where you unplug and focus on yourself instead. Whether you turn off your phone, log out of Instagram, or shut down your computer, carve out some time each day to disengage from the “social” world and turn your attention inward. Spend that time refocusing your energy on what makes you smile, and you will find that your overall happiness will increase.
What are some things you do to live a mindful life? I would love to hear your thoughts!