The repetitive activities in our everyday lives offer excellent opportunities to bring mindfulness into every moment. Breathe space in your daily routines and discover benefits with these helpful practices.

  • First Things First; Wake Up With Focus And Purpose

  • Mindful Eating: More Than Just A Mouthful

  • The Power Of The Pause: Retraining Our Brain

  • Mindful Workout: Activate More Than Your Muscles

  • Mindful Driving: Drive Yourself Calm

For many, from the moment we awaken, the shot has been fired to start our day. The mind begins reviewing the mental task list of what lies ahead before our feet touch the floor. And how often have we rushed into our days without even considering how we would like things to go? Also, how many times have we ended our day and not able to recall any particular event? It’s as if we are living in a daze. For many of us, we are. 

There is a better way. Simply pausing to practice mindfulness for just a few minutes during the day will create more fulfilling experiences that are in line with how you want your life to be.

Here are five daily practices to bring more mindfulness into your life.

First Things First; Wake Up With Focus And Purpose

First thing in the morning is ideal to set some time aside before starting your day. For many, the morning can be a disorienting time. We often find ourselves thinking about our lives’ most demanding parts before our eyes are even open, instantly creating stress and anxiety. By taking a few minutes each morning, you can retrain your brain to allow you to ease into your day. 

Contrary to traditional forms of meditation, you can practice mindfulness no matter where you are, so find a space where you can be alone, whether still lying in bed, sitting in a comfortable chair, or even in the bathroom. 

The idea is to start your day with intention. 

An intention is focused energy that starts in the present moment and sees what your future will bring. Intentions are based on a strong purpose or objective, paired with determination and persistence to achieve a desired result.

Setting and living by intention allows you to be aware of who you are in the moment, recognize and honor your value, raise your emotional energy, which then increases your physical energy. Daily intentions help you identify your values and offer a powerful way to achieve success and, most importantly, fulfillment.

For More On Intentions, Read Our December Article: Do More Than Set Goals, Setting Daily Intentions Will Change Your Life

This practice is best done first thing in the morning, before checking phones or email.

  1. On waking, sit or lie in your bed or a chair in a relaxed posture. Close your eyes and connect with the sensations of your seated body. Make sure your spine is straight but not rigid.
  2. Take three long, deep, nourishing breaths. Breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth let your breath settle into its rhythm. Observe the rise and fall of your chest and belly as you breathe.
  3. Ask yourself: “What is my intention for today?” Use these prompts to help answer that question, as you think about the people and activities you will face. Ask yourself:
    • How might I show up today to have the best impact?
    • What quality of mind do I want to strengthen and develop?
    • What do I need to take better care of myself?
    • During difficult moments, how might I be more compassionate to others and myself?
    • How might I feel more connected and fulfilled?
  4. Set your intention for the day. For example, “Today, I will be kind to myself; be patient with others; give generously; stay grounded; persevere; have fun; eat well,” or anything else you feel is important.
  5. Throughout the day, check-in with yourself. Pause, take a breath and revisit your intention. Notice, as you become more and more conscious of your intentions for each day, how the quality of your communications, relationships, and mood shifts.


Mindful Eating: More Than Just A Mouthful

Eating. It is something we do throughout our day. It is an essential requirement to fuel our bodies. But how many of us have powered through a plate of food and don’t remember eating it? Or even more likely, eating lunch or dinner while working, looking at our phones, watching television, or ALL THREE!

Eating can and should be one of the most pleasurable experiences we engage in as human beings. By bringing mindfulness into our eating experience, we can make it a far richer experience, becoming aware of the value of taste and nutrition. 

  1. Breathe before eating. We often move from one task right to the other without pausing or taking a breath. By pausing before we eat, we slow down and allow for a transition to our meals and bring awareness to the experience. Bring your attention inward by closing your eyes, and begin to breathe slowly in and out of your belly for eight to 10 deep breaths before you start your meal.
  2. See what is in front of you. Take a look at the plate of food in front of you. What colors do you see? What textures? Take a deep inhale and enjoy the unique smells that are a part of the food you are about to enjoy. Reflect on the food, where it came from, how it got to be on your plate, and express gratitude for having it at this moment.
  3. Practice peaceful eating. As you begin to eat, slow down and continue to breathe deeply. Enjoy the flavor and texture of each bite, and most of all, just eat.
  4. Pause at the end. Take a moment as you complete your meal to feel gratitude and satisfaction for the experience. Knowing that your body will be nourished from the food that you just ate. 


The Power Of The Pause: Retraining Our Brain

It’s estimated that 95% of our behavior runs on autopilot—without us thinking or being aware of it. How many times have we each looked up at the clock and can’t clearly remember anything that has transpired? In today’s world, we are constantly bombarded by information: emails, text messages, push notifications, and more. Not only is this way of living unfulfilling, it’s very unhealthy. 

Mindfulness is the exact opposite of these habits; it’s the slow brain. It’s you in charge rather than autopilot and enables intentional actions and purposeful decisions. It does require practice. The more we engage in simple exercises that slow our brain’s thought patterns and messages, the stronger it gets. Every time we do something deliberate and new, we stimulate neuroplasticity, activating our grey matter, full of newly sprouted neurons that have not yet been trained by the autopilot brain.

Check out this great interview: Brene Brown and David Eagleman on The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain

Here are some steps you can take to train your brain to be more aware and present. 

  1. Set reminders. Build time into your day to simply pause wherever you are and with whatever you are doing just to take a moment, breathe, and be aware of what you are doing. Setting a gentle alarm or reminder on your phone is a simple way of reminding yourself to pause, sit back, stand up, and be present. 
  2. Pausing at the end. We all have task lists that are never-ending and that seem to grow at warp speed. For some of us, they help keep us organized. But instead of pummeling through your list day after day, take a small break at the end of each task. Upon completion of one task, take a moment to sit back, take a breath, and acknowledge that it is complete. Express satisfaction with that being complete and then move on to the next item.
  3. Segment intending. Another helpful practice is to segment intend. Before beginning the next task or to-do, take a moment to determine what you will be doing next, how you intend to go, feel the process positively taking place, and then begin. 


Mindful Workout: Activate More Than Your Muscles

Engaging in physical activity is a necessary practice to keep our bodies fit and healthy. Riding a bike, lifting weights, swimming, taking a walk – what do they have in common? They can be mindfulness practices. In addition to your goals in engaging in physical exercise, incorporating mindfulness can enrich the experience mentally and physically.

With intention and focus, you can move and breathe in a way that not only gets your blood pumping and invigorates every cell in your body, but also shifts you from feeling busy and distracted to feeling strong and capable.

Here are a few steps that will help you have more energized and fulfilling physical activity. 

  1. Be clear on your intention. As you prepare to engage in your activity, take a moment to bring purpose to your activity by consciously envisioning how you want your time to unfold. Speak those intentions. As you prepare for your walk, you might say, “I am going to breathe deeply and observe the scenery around me as I walk. I am going to intentionally feel the sun on my face and the ground beneath my feet.” If yoga is your practice, you might say, “I am going to honor my body with each pose, with each stretch, and with each hold. I will breathe in deeply and exhale fully knowing my body, mind, and spirit are at one in this time.”
  2. Warm-up. Before engaging in your activity of choice, take about 5 minutes to ease your body into active movement. Stretching is a great way to engage muscles with the breath. By moving rhythmically, your brain activity, heart rate, and nervous system begin to align and stabilize.
  3. Cooldown. As your routine comes to an end, take a few minutes to slow down your pace until you come to a standstill. Notice the way your body feels. Drink in your surroundings as well as large amounts of freshwater.
  4. Rest and recognize. Quietly acknowledge the sensations flowing in and around you. Practice naming what you feel and sense. Express gratitude to yourself for taking this time to be mindful and present with the desire to increase your vitality and health.


Mindful Driving: Drive Yourself Calm

Many of us spend a lot of time behind the wheel of our vehicles. Whether driving to and from work, running errands, bringing the kids to an fro, the time in our cars can be stressful. 

Enter heavy traffic and impatient drivers, the stress and frustration can reach new levels. Emotions run high, tempers flare, tires squeal, and horns honk.

But it doesn’t have to be like this for you. The time behind the wheel can be a serene and peaceful event that energizes and uplifts you as you go from point a to point b.

Here are a few steps to a simple behind-the-wheel practice. 

  1. Take a breath. Seriously, this small but profound act helps bring more oxygen into your body and widens the space between traffic triggers and your need to react.
  2. Set your GPS for success. Take another small moment and set the intention of how you want to be during this drive. This has nothing to do with anyone else on the road and calls into play you being responsible for yourself. You may say, “I want to have a pleasant drive home from work today. I will take this time to transition my focus from work to the enjoyment of arriving home.”
  3. You are not alone. While driving, recognize that all the other drivers are just like you. They are all experiencing their lives, just as you are, and they are going from one place to another. Think for a moment that the driver who just laid on the horn may have had a bad day, maybe under immense personal stress, or may not be feeling worthy. Empathize with them. By doing so you are creating compassion for them and you.
  4. Park, but don’t exit. Once you get where you intend to go, pause when you park. Turn off the car and sit back for a moment, expressing gratitude for the ability to travel as you wish and for having a safe trip. Giving thanks for being mindful in this trip and then set the intention on what you will do next.

As you can see, the steps follow a simple but powerful process: start with intention, be aware during the action, pause, and reflect upon the completion. Mindfulness is a simple, rewarding, and beneficial practice that will bring meaning and fulfillment to all areas of your life.  

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