With all of the technology surrounding us, it’s difficult to devote meaningful attention to things in our lives. Focusing on one thing sometimes leads to neglecting other things, so if you find yourself feeling scattered, overwhelmed and distracted, you’re not alone! In fact, researchers at Harvard University found that people generally spend nearly half of their waking hours thinking about something OTHER than what they’re doing at the moment!
Mindfulness is the act of paying attention to the present moment, and your associated senses at that moment. The act of practicing mindfulness pays off in multiple areas and in multiple ways. You can practice mindfulness while walking, doing chores or any other activity. You can also practice it while being still, or during meditation.
Try it Out
When you first start practicing mindfulness, it’s normal for your mind to wander around a bit. Don’t get discouraged! When you notice your mind is wandering, bring it back to your mindfulness exercise. Just like strengthening a muscle, with time and practice you’ll notice improvements in your ability to stay focused.
Here are three easy practices to try out on your own:
When you walk mindfully, you pay attention to every aspect of your walk. Notice how it feels to pick up your feet and place them down, the experience of moving weight from one leg to the other, and the environment are walking through, perhaps listening to the sounds around you or feeling the air on your skin.
Mindful eating is slowing down to appreciate the experience of eating and check in with your relationship to food. It can be done for as little as one bite or as much as an entire meal. Start by observing how the food looks on your plate, notice any positive or negative thoughts that arise without being judgmental in your mind. Choose your next bite carefully, and take time to chew slowly and fully experience the taste and texture of the food in your mouth.
Choose a repetitive cleaning task around the house such as vacuuming, washing the dishes, or even taking a shower. For example, while washing the dishes, notice all of the information your body and mind receive: the feeling of the soap on your hands, notice the way you’re being careful to not break anything, listen to the sound of the water. Fully focus your mind on the task at hand and spend time noticing the details that you would normally overlook.
Take the Next Step to Improve Your Mindfulness Skills
Interested in developing your ability to practice mindfulness?
About Nikki Carter
Nikki Carter, Mindfulness & Meditation Program Manager
Nikki Carter holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Columbia University, specializing in mind body practices. She taught yoga and meditation for over 10 years in New York City, in addition to training over 1,000 people to teach yoga and meditation. In her free time she runs mindfulness retreats for women through her passion project, We Are Self-Centered. Poppy Life Care is proud to include Nikki as one of its new Meditation instructors.