Mindfulness is waking up to your present moment experience. Sounds easy right? But what about if you start forgetting to be mindful off the cushion? The formal practice of #mindfulness #meditation (on the cushion) can help you cultivate awareness but you can also use some simple strategies to cue mindfulness into daily life so you can intentionally remember to be mindful. After all we practice mindfulness to be better at leading our lives!
Both formal and informal mindfulness practices help you expand awareness of your whole life experience and with more awareness comes a greater sense of responsibility, freedom and choice. Let’s look at some ways you can cue mindfulness into your working week.
Listen #mindfully. When you’re having a conversation practice listening fully by establishing eye contact, a warm smile, having open body language and a genuine sense of concern for what the other person is sharing with you. Try to stay focused on their words rather than your personal judgment or strategic response. What can you learn? You might find even the most difficult conversations offer rich learning opportunities.
#Mindful Habit. Choose one of your daily activities and make it a mindful. Maybe it’s brushing your teeth? Feel into your feet on the floor, hear the trickle of water, notice the sensations in your mouth as your brush over your teeth, bring your attention to the taste in your mouth. It could also be your morning cuppa, lunch, driving the car, walking to the office, washing the dishes, showering. These daily activities make up the majority of our lives and yet we miss so much being in our heads imagining we are somewhere else.
Calm Cue. Have a practice that helps you relax. Perhaps you can drop your shoulders, take three deep breaths, smile a little. Just allowing your self to pause, release extra stress and reset. Notice the place your breath is most obvious and let that be your anchor.
Environmental Cue. Choose something in your environment that reminds you to turn your attention to your breath, body or inner experience. It might be each time the phone rings you notice what is going on in your mental chatter and refocus on breath before you pick up. It maybe a rose scented hand cream that when you apply you can feel into the flesh of your hands and let the smell fill your senses.
Notice your environment. Play a little game of noticing three new things on your daily walk or when you enter a new space throughout your day. By intentionally looking for new discoveries in your environment you’re conditioning yourself to be more present.
Check-in. Throughout your day pause and check into how you’re feeling. Label the emotion you’re feeling if you can and take a few deep breaths just to pause and be with it. Does it change?
Break your habit. Do you always sit in the same spot at the meal table? Drive to work on the same route? Deliberately try to mix up your habits by doing something new or different. Challenge the status-quo.
Chocolate meditation. Take a piece of chocolate and let it sit on tongue. Savour the pleasure you get from allowing it to melt slowly and focus all your attention on taste for a few moments. You can try this with other meals too.
Body Scan. Do a mini body scan and check into the physical sensations of the body to see if there are any areas your holding onto tension unnecessarily. See if you can use the breath to soften the body. The mirror in the bathrooms at the office might be a good place to try this one.
Grounding. If your mind is racing with several fast thoughts all at once, feel into your feet firmly on the floor and take a few deep breaths focusing your attention on your feet feeling into the floor. Shift your weight from foot to foot for extra attention. Notice the sensations of the weight shifting.
Self-kindness. Notice your inner voice, are you speaking kindly to yourself or is your voice harsh and critical? Adopt a kinder and gentler tone and treat yourself the way you would a dear friend or loved one. How does that feel in your body?
I recommend you starting with just one or two of these mindfulness cues each week. These coupled with a formal practice of 20 mins once or twice a day or a few times a week you’ll be well on your way to establishing your mindfulness practice. Just think developing a new practice like this you’re actively involved in shaping your neural pathways and brain architecture for resiliency and being more engaged with your whole life.
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