The term, ‘mindful living’ can sometimes produce feelings of stress, anxiety, and a bit of angst. Why? Because we think mindful living requires peace, quiet, and the thing none of us seem to have-time.
On top of being mindful, there is the planning for the mindful activity, errands to run, exercise classes to attend, kids to pick up from their sports, as well as a host of other barriers. In the busy-ness of everyday life, the act of mindfulness can feel insurmountable, and let’s face it, overwhelming.
But does it have to be?
Mindful living doesn’t have to be 30 minutes of silence outside without any distractions. It doesn’t have to mean eyes closed sitting on a blanket meditating. Actually, the art of mindfulness can exist in the messy, chaotic, and loud moments of the day. It exists in the sound of the toaster ejecting breakfast, the kids’ squeals and giggles in the background, the piles of laundry beckoning your name, etc.
Mindfulness isn’t about the quiet around you, it is about building a quiet within you even when the world around you is not.
Examples of mindful living are:
Exercise While you are exercising, spend the moments with your body assessing how each movement is making it feel. Notice your muscles as you stretch. Feel your stomach as it goes in and out with each breath. If you are outside, take in your surroundings and tune in to the life existing all around you. Check in with yourself on how each motion is making your body feel. Laundry Instead of looking at the large piles surrounding you, take them in, one at a time. Notice how the fabric makes your skin feel as you place it into the washer. Listen to the water run. Notice the smell of the specific laundry detergent you use. As you move clothes into the dryer, notice the weight the water carries in the clothes, listen to the sound they make as they are tossed into the dryer. Smell the fragrance of the dryer sheet and listen to the door being closed as the rattling of the dryer starts.
Cooking Dinner Likely, there is noise all around you at dinner time. The kids are screaming, the TV is blaring, and dinner is just one thing that will get you closer to falling on your pillow at night. But, mindfulness can also exist here. Take time to prepare the dinner, and feel the coolness of each pot/pan that is introduced into the meal. Feel the rush of coldness from the fridge as you open it while also experiencing the heat of the skillet on the stove. Notice each step as it builds and expands on the one prior that leaves you with a fragrant meal.
Driving to/Picking up kids from activities Yes, even in this moment, mindfulness can exist. Notice the feeling of the steering wheel and the rush of the tires on the road beneath you. Listen to the sound of your kids in the backseat and attune yourself to what they are saying. Breathe in and out with each passing moment. Being mindful during everyday tasks may not be easy at first, but like anything else, repetition is the key to habit formation. When you are exercising mindfully and find yourself thinking about all the things you have to do the rest of the day don’t be discouraged.
This is normal.
Just focus back on the ways in which your muscles feel, your body feels, and bring attention back to your breath. Breathe in through your nose and pay attention as your stomach goes in and out with each breath. Notice the perspiration on your forehead as your body is intuitively trying to cool you down. Feel the ground beneath you and let it be your anchor. Through consistent redirection of your attention, you will find mindfulness to come as second nature. It’s important to note that while mindfulness can be helpful, it is not a substitute for professional mental health treatment. If you’re struggling with mental health issues, it’s always best to seek support from a licensed mental health professional. Dr. Terry and Dr. Menon are eager to help you in your journey to wellness. Book your free consultation now.