As a result, it’s been a HUGE part of my personal transformation from a crabby, frustrated perfectionist to a patient and (mostly) serene imperfectionist-in-progress.
Still, I understand why it’s so hard to start the practice.
I understand that it feels like a waste of time, and that most of us are so busy that it’s hard to justify taking 10 minutes or 5 minutes or even 1 minute to sit down and “do nothing.”
I hear you! And hear me: that’s totally okay.
That said, maybe meditating ISN’T right for you, or maybe it just isn’t right for you RIGHT NOW. Who can know?
But I do believe one thing for sure: we all can benefit from mindfulness. Luckily, we can practice that mindfulness anytime, any place!
Mindfulness is nothing more than focusing awareness on the present moment—with acceptance and grace. (More on that in a second.)
We spend most minutes of the day focused on the past or the future.
When we’re focusing on either of those, it is impossible to be focusing on the present. To be in the present more often, we have to literally practice being present.
For some of us, that’s what meditating does. For me, it’s a time when I sit down every day and PRACTICE being present. That’s it.
But if meditation isn’t resonating with you, I encourage you to try something else—and it can be almost anything! If there’s intention behind it…
I wanted to share a few other ways I practice being present:
Mindful Dishes. I hated doing the dishes until I started doing them mindfully. Take a breath and approach this with an open mind, instead of a frustrated-about-doing-the-dishes one. How does the water feel on your hands?Warm? Cold? Do you feel the soap? Can you smell the soap?Try to stay present with awareness during this process instead of wandering and thinking about the past or future. If and when your mind wanders, just bring it back to the dishwashing—without being angry that your mind wandered (you are human, it’s going to happen no matter how long you practice).
Mindful Showers. In the shower, do the same thing. Notice how the water feels on your body. What’s the temperature like? How does the soap feel and look? Does it smell? The mindfulness is nothing more than practicing keeping your attention in the shower, rather than planning the minutes following.
Mindful Eating. Sit down at a table and enjoy your meal, free of any technology or distractions. Notice how your food looks. What are the shapes? Colors? How does it taste—texture? Flavor? How does it feel when you chew? Swallow? Take your time.
Listening & Sound Exercise. Be still and close your eyes, or feel free to leave them open. Take a breath or two to relax and then take a minute or two to notice the sounds. What do you hear? Can you notice 5 different sounds?
Senses Walk. Get your steps in! I’ll go for a walk (it can be 5 minutes or an hour—whatever you have) and take time going through each of your senses (I usually skip taste… as I’m typically not eating while on my walks!). What are the physical sensations you feel while you walk? What do you feel beneath your feet? In your joints? Do you feel any tension? Notice, and try not to judge. Just notice it—it doesn’t even need to be named. Spend as long as you can (or can manage) on this sense. Then move onto the next: Sound. What do you hear? Are the sounds close? Far? Try not to judge if they are pleasant or unpleasant, but just let them exist with you on this walk. After some time, notice smell. Can you smell flowers? Grass? Sweetness? Dog poop? Again, no naming is necessary. Just notice, and let the smells be perfect as they are—and if there aren’t any smells, don’t stress your nose out trying to find some. Feel free to notice sight as well, or instead try…
Color Walk. Walk for any amount of time and start with a color—I usually cycle through pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. What do I see around me that is pink? Pinkish? Notice it. Notice the shape, color or texture, but don’t prioritize naming or labeling it. Don’t discriminate whether it’s natural or manmade—just notice anything around that has the color. After a minute, a block, or whenever feels right, move onto the next color. These walks have always opened me up to seeing things I’ve never seen before (I will often go for these walks after being activated or upset. 10 minutes later and I’m relaxed and stable!).
Dance Class! I recently joined a dance studio and have been taking dance classes every week. When I attend a choreography-based class, I have to be SO present and focused, or else I can’t follow the class. I try to notice how my body feels doing certain movements—how my feet press into the ground, or when certain muscles tighten or release. You can of course practice this with any exercise!
Regardless of how you choose to practice mindfulness, make sure to bring self-compassion along with it.
You are human—your mind is going to wander. Even Buddha’s mind wandered. It’s okay! The challenge is: Can we bring it back, without beating ourselves up?
Thanks for being here, and have a wonderful week!!