One of the things which often surprises people about mindfulness is how simple it is to bring it into your day. For those who don't feel like sitting and doing a formal meditation all the time, there are many options and possibilities.
Mindfulness is paying very careful attention to absolutely anything that's happening in the present moment. It might be a sound you hear, or the feeling of your feet on the ground, it might be noticing the sensation of drinking tea, or feeing the weight of a pen in your hand. You might be standing in line in a queue or driving your car.
One of the most common benefits of practicing mindfulness is the decrease in stress and increase in resilience, focus and work-life happiness. Generally the more you practice the greater the benefits, but if you're looking for ways to begin, there's some simple things you can do which don't require any extra time.
Below you'll find twenty-one ways to bring mindfulness to your workday. By picking one thing from this list and practicing it every day for a week, you'll likely feel the positive impact.
1. Be aware of when you first start waking up in the morning, notice what it feels like. Take a moment to breathe in and out slowly, notice the sensation of your breath in your body.
2. Before you jump out of bed or reach for your phone, think of one thing you are grateful for and hold it in your awareness for a few moments. Breathe.
3. One of my absolute favourites is when you brush your teeth which takes no extra time and is a great way to begin to settle your mind in the morning: notice tastes, smells, sounds and texture.
4. Try slowing the pace down as you’re walking to your car, notice the sensations of your feet making contact with the ground.
5. If you drive to work or take the train, shift your attention into your body, notice the sensation of your seat in the chair, feel the steering wheel in your hands.
6. When you first arrive at your desk, or sit down to your computer, before you turn it on, take three conscious deep breaths.
7. If you have a drink at your desk (water, tea, coffee) each time you pick up your drink, feel the weight of it in your hands, notice your arm moving and muscles working when you pick it up and set it down.
8. Before you head to a meeting, take one slow deep breath, notice in which part of your body you most naturally feel your breath
9. As you’re walking to a meeting, instead of checking emails or texting in your phone, do a short walking meditation, notice the sensation of your feet walking on the ground.
10. When you are sitting in a meeting, notice the sensation of your seat in your chair, take one conscious breath, or better still why not suggest everyone pay attention to their breathing for 30 seconds before starting the meeting.
11. If you want to intensify things, try a mindful listening practice when a colleague comes to speak to you. Mindful listening means holding the space for another person to speak, without interrupting or planning ahead of time what you’re going to say in response.
12. A highly-effective place to practice meditation is during bathroom breaks – you don’t need to schedule any extra time – as you breathe in, notice any tensions in your body, as you breathe out soften and relax them. This is a powerful way to re-energize in your day.
13. When you’re next at your computer, bring your attention to the sensation of your finger tips tapping the keyboard, notice the sounds, try to hold your attention here for as long as possible and when your attention wanders, bring it back to the sensation of your fingers tapping the keys.
14. If you work in a particularly noisy environment (I’m guessing that’s most of us!) take a moment to notice the sounds around you, notice sounds that are close by, like the ping of an email, notice sounds that are further away, like colleagues having a conversation. Notice buzzing sounds, traffic sounds, music, whatever you happen to hear, and try not to get caught up in the stories, just use the sounds themselves to practice being present.
15. Take a moment to look around you, notice your environment, look through the windows, observe people, look up to the sky, look down on the ground, look in new places. Bring child- like curiosity to what you see without getting too drawn into stories.
16. When you go for lunch, use the time to do a mindful eating practice. You don’t need to be on your own to do this (although that’s great too), you can do it in the company of others. What do you see? Notice tastes, textures and sounds while you’re eating. When your attention wanders, come back to your food.
17. Before shutting down your computer, take one conscious breath, or three.
18. Getting in your car is a fantastic time to meditate and decompress before going home (this is another of my personal favourites). As you get in the car, notice the sensations of your seat in the chair and feet on the pedals. Next, try turning off the radio and your cell phone (which should be anyway!) and focus on your breathing as you drive. By the time you get home, you will be in a much better frame of mind and more available for your family.
19. As you’re walking to your front door, drop into your feet, notice the sensations of your feet on the ground, check in with how you are, notice any thoughts, feelings from your work day and let them go before entering your home.
20. Even if it’s for 5 or 10 minutes, practice being completely present with your family, put your phone away, leave chores for a few minutes – your phone and chores aren’t going anywhere, but you’ll never have those moments with your loved ones again.
21. When you go to bed take a moment to notice sensations in your body, the body scan is a wonderful practice to encourage sleep take a few moments to bring your full attention to your body, do a sweep starting with your feet, legs, stomach, chest region, right up to your head. Take a few conscious breaths.
What are some of the things you do to focus in your day? Do you have a specific time in the day that you check in with yourself? Join the conversation and share your comments below!