Ways to Be More Mindful, When You Don't Like Meditation
Phrases like “this month flew by” or “where has the year gone?” are becoming all too common these days, and they are absolutely linked to the lack of time we take to slow down and be mindful.
Although there are many benefits of meditating daily, meditation is not the only way to practice mindfulness during your day. The good news is that you can be mindful without meditating. There are many alternative ways to quiet the mind and relax the body. For some people, hiking, singing, knitting, gardening, dancing, sculpting, jogging, playing instruments, or swimming can serve as a meditation. Find what works for you, and be consistent.
Here are some simple ways you can be more mindful in your daily life, without meditation:
Mindful Deep Breathing
Did you know that focused deep breathing is an effective (and very easy!) way to be more mindful?
Deep breathing involves bringing awareness to your breath and gradually slowing down the rate of your breathing. This helps you maximize the amount of oxygen entering your body and also activates your nervous system, which is responsible for our counter response to stress, and helps bring our bodies back into balance.
The goal is to take deep breaths evenly and slowly and count during each exhale. Only count up to 5, and then start over. If you find yourself counting higher, you’ll know your mind has wandered. You can also keep your hand on your heart if the sensation of your heartbeat helps you to focus on your breath.
While focusing on your breath, strive to let go of any thoughts or emotions that are currently running through your mind and body. There is something naturally calming about just sitting and listening to your breath go in and out. This is why it is such a great and simple mindfulness technique to learn.
A quick note on proper “deep” breathing: It’s important to breathe deeply into your diaphragm rather than into your chest.
Nowadays, many of us have become accustomed to eating while doing other tasks, eating at our work desks, while watching TV or even just grabbing takeout while on the run. We’ve forgotten to savour and celebrate the food we put into our mouths.
Mindful eating is hugely beneficial for our health and wellness because it can prevent overeating and unhealthy food choices. Through the addition of mindfulness, we naturally become more conscious of what we’re putting into our mouths and give our gut and brain time to signal when we’re full. Mindful eating simply invites us to be present while cooking or eating, allowing us to truly savour our food without any judgment, guilt, or anxiety.
To be mindful whilst eating, the key thing to remember is: focus on your food and slow down! Focus on the colours, smells and texture of your food as you eat it. Take one bite at a time, chew slowly and really savour the flavours.
Where you can, avoid eating with distractions or temptations around you. This will make your life easier, and your body will thank you for it in the long run.
Mindfulness is all about focusing your attention on what you’re doing in that present moment and acknowledging the sensations that come from it.
For example, pay attention to the sensations of running or walking. Take note of how your body feels. Concentrate on matching the rhythm of your breath to your movement. By moving rhythmically, your brain activity, heart rate, and nervous system begin to align and stabilize. Pick up the intensity, but continue to coordinate your breath and movement. If you have trouble doing this, then simply focus on your breathing for a few minutes. Eventually you’ll find your groove.
Once finished, give yourself time to cool down and take time to stretch the muscles you worked. If you can, take a moment to lie down at the end of the workout to really feel the effects of your hard work.
Mindful Music Listening
Music has many wonderful benefits for stress management and overall health. Music can ground you, lift your mood, slow your breathing, and create other stress-inducing changes. Put on some music and put on headphones on if possible. Whatever you choose, play the music and listen with your whole body, not just your ears. If you feel like it, let the music move you.
Notice the pace of the music, the sounds of the different instruments, or the shifts in volume. Notice if you’re more aware of a certain part of your body as you listen. Let any thoughts just pass through your awareness, and then gently bring yourself back to the sounds of the music.
A quick note: if you find the music brings lots of thoughts, memories, and internal dialogue, switch to a different type of music. Instrumental music can come in many forms, including classical, jazz, new age, and more, and it can be less distracting than other types of music.
Being Mindful in the Shower/Bath
If you’re wanting to learn how to be more mindful but finding it difficult to do so, your daily shower is the perfect place to start. For many of us, it is our greatest opportunity for some peace and quiet from our hectic lives.
During your next shower or bath, take a moment to truly pamper yourself. Tune out of everything that has happened, or is likely to happen in your day. Let go of existing thoughts racing through your mind and instead, just focus on the immediate sensations of being in the shower. How does the warm water feel on your skin? What can you can smell? How does the water sound as it splashes against your body? This is a very simple and calming way to be bring more mindfulness into your day.