Do you ever feel like life is rushing by at a pace that you are just barely keeping up with? Maybe your mind is constantly working overtime to the point where it can be hard to settle down at bedtime and get some truly restful sleep? Do you sometimes find yourself getting caught up in drama around you that you don’t really want to be a part of, but can’t seem to stop thinking about? Or maybe you just saw the title of this blog post and you thought, “That looks interesting, but I seriously cannot even fit in 5 minutes more of anything!”
Making space for more mindfulness in your life can help with any and all of these things. I know because I’ve experienced all of them at one time or another in my life. Most of us have! One of the most amazing things about making time for mindfulness is – while it might feel like you are adding one more thing to your already overflowing to do list -in actuality it makes the pace of your life slow down. Your brain needs regular time to rest and recuperate just like your body does. These simple exercises can be done nearly anywhere for any amount of time and can help you practice mindfulness in really simple ways.
- Journal – Journaling to increase mindfulness does not mean writing down all of the things that are driving you crazy about someone and why you are justified in feeling that way. In order to increase mindfulness through journaling the focus needs to be on gratitude. Taking five minutes to write down what is going well in your life helps you recognize and verbalize that you have everything you need in this moment. Jotting down three things you are grateful for in your journal each night before bed is a beautiful way to end the day on a positive note that takes very little time. When you are feeling less than positive you can always flip back through your journal to remember all of the amazing things you have going for you right now.
- Art – You don’t have to consider yourself an artist to benefit from practicing mindfulness through art. I once took a nature drawing class and our instructor had us warm up with an exercise where we did a sketch of a tree without looking at the paper. The point of the exercise was not to end up with a beautiful looking tree (all of our pictures ended up looking like unrecognizable squiggles) the point was to really immerse ourselves in the details of the tree. To focus and lose ourselves in the process of being present with what was in front of us. You don’t need a set of fancy paints or expensive art paper to do this. You just need a notebook and a pen and you can do it anywhere (outside is nice). Don’t worry about what you are going to end up with – the point is to settle into the experience. You don’t have to show the final results it to anyone.
- Meditate – I know the fact that meditation increases mindfulness is not news to most people, but I had to put another plug in for it. I first started meditating in my 20’s and I took it pretty seriously. I attended retreats and had a special sit spot set up and I would ring a bell and light a candle and it was all very beautiful and somewhat elaborate BUT meditation doesn’t have to be like that. I think sometimes it can seem intimidating for people to give meditation a try because they think they need all of the bells and whistles or that they need to commit to a week long retreat. Someday you might want those things, but you don’t need all of that to just try it out. I love the free One Giant Mind app that introduces meditation in a really approachable way. Meditation is still a part of my daily life, but sometimes now I do it in the car when I’m waiting to pick up my kiddo from preschool and it still has the same amazing effect of helping me to feel calm and centered amidst a sometimes hectic life.
- Dance – Mindfulness does not have to just mean sitting quietly in one place. It’s anything that helps bring you into the present moment. Turn up some music that you love and start moving in any way that feels really good. Take off your socks and shoes and really feel your feet on the floor. Close your eyes and truly listen to the music. If you feel self conscious do it in a time and place where there is no one around to see you so you can just let go and enjoy the experience.
- Sit on a Park Bench – Take a few minutes to sit on a park bench and move through each of your senses. Close your eyes. Can you hear the sound of birds nearby or people walking and talking to each other? What smells do you notice – maybe cut grass or leaves? Take your hands and place them on the bench and feel it under you. Is it cold or rough or smooth? Do you feel cool from the breeze or warm from the sun? Breathe deeply and remember with gratitude all of the different ways we can experience the world around us.
The beautiful thing is that mindfulness can be cultivated in so many different ways. How do you like to practice mindfulness in your life? Really the goal is to bring mindfulness into your daily routine as much as possible. If meditation isn’t your thing that is totally okay! Find what is your thing and do it in a way that helps you be present in this moment – to give your brain a rest from thinking about what you need to do next or chewing over what has happened in the past. When you are fully present it’s easier to experience a really saturated, juicy life. You will find you are able to better connect to people around you, experience more moments of awe, and truly recognize what an amazing life you have.
Be happy, be healthy, be well.