This is a guest post by Nicola Mills from Traveling Vineyard, a busy, self-employed mum who knows the importance of finding snatches of peace in the chaos and appreciating small pleasures.
Mindfulness is all about having a moment.
No longer the sole preserve of hippies and Buddhist monks, meditation practice is fast becoming a vital part of many people’s lives. And the benefits are clear. Mindfulness has been proven to reduce stress, slow ageing, improve concentration, and most importantly, make us happier.
Ironically though, while mindfulness is the perfect antidote to our fast-paced modern lives, it is that very same fast pace of daily life that makes it so hard to find the time to slow down and breathe.
The trouble is, the more stressed we are, the more we struggle to function at our best. That affects our success, our relationships and our well-being both at work and at home.
With a bit of practice, it is possible to make mindfulness part of your daily routine.
Mindfulness is all about taking time to focus on the present moment, to feel what your senses are taking in, and to observe the thoughts passing through your mind.Which can be done anytime and anywhere.
Here are some of our favourite times when you can squeeze in some mini meditations…
Brushing your teeth.
Even on the busiest days you still have to brush your teeth, right?
Try using this time to be mindful of the sensation of brushing, the taste of the toothpaste, and the feel of your feet on the floor rather than mentally rattling through the day’s to-do list.
You’ll emerge feeling a little calmer and with a great smile to boot!
Taking a shower.
We all know how relaxing a long soak in the bath can be, but when you’re pressed for time some shower mindfulness can also be very restorative.
Focus your mind on the feeling of the warm water, the smell of your shampoo and the sound of the splashing water.
If your mind wanders, simply notice where your thoughts go and gently bring your attention back to the physical sensations.
Journeys to and from work can vary from mind-numbingly boring to seriously stressful, but are rarely the favourite part of our day.
Transform your daily commute by listening to guided meditations on your headphones (there’s some great apps to choose from), practicing some deep breathing, or being mindful of your environment, thoughts and emotions. Yes, even if those thoughts and emotions involve being stuck on a crowded bus with smelly fellow passengers and wanting to scream!
Another inescapable part of daily life you can convert into a mindfulness moment is housework time.
Whether you’re cooking or washing the dishes (this one is proven to be a stress reliever), take a minute to slow your breathing.
Breathe in for the count of three, hold it for two, breathe out for three, hold for two, and repeat… Now turn your attention to the smells of your dinner, the sound your knife makes on the chopping board, or the feel of the soapy suds on your hands.
Let your mind wander, observing your thoughts as a curious but objective outsider.
Combine a walk with a bit of mindfulness to give yourself a serious well-being boost.
All too often, we stride along with our eyes down, paying no attention to our surroundings. But even your boring walk to work can help clear your mind when you focus on noticing the sights, sounds and smells of your environment and the feeling of your feet hitting the ground.
Food is one of life’s great joys, but when we’re busy and stressed we tend to wolf it down for the fuel benefit alone. Next time, slow down and try to really taste what you’re eating.
This way you get to enjoy meal times, are less likely to overeat and you’ve carved out a little Zen time in your day.
At the end of the day.
Many of us have trouble switching off at the end of a busy day so bedtime is the ideal time for some mindfulness and meditation.
Get comfy and focus on your breathing for a while, noticing the rising and falling sensation. Take a moment to notice how your mind and your body are feeling after your day, including any worries or tense spots. Slowly turn your attention to each part of your body, relaxing your muscles and “switching off” from your toes up to your head until you drift off to sleep.
See how easy it is to make mindfulness part of your daily routine? Don’t forget – it’s those days when your mind is racing and you have a million things to do that fitting some little moments of mindfulness into your day will have the most impact.