Cultivate small moments of present moment awareness throughout your day.
Tip 1: Practice one-minute meditation. Too busy or not motivated to meditate for 30 minutes a day? Martin Boroson demonstrates the power of even small moments of mindful awareness in his fun video “How to meditate in one moment”.
Tip 2: In addition to sitting meditation, you can also cultivate mindfulness informally by focusing your attention on your moment-to-moment sensations during everyday activities. Choose one activity at a time and give it your full attention. As you wash the dishes, pet the dog, drive your car or eat an apple, focus fully on the activity you are engaging in while breathing deeply and being fully present as it unfolds. Notice what senses are engaged in the activity.
Tip 3: Any time you have a pause in your activities, such as between tasks or when sitting at traffic lights, or when you realize that you’re becoming stressed, bring your awareness to the breath. Inhale and exhale in slow, deep breathes to create a calming influence. If you need a distraction for your mind, you can count each breath.
Tip 4: When talking with others, relax into the conversation. Be fully present with the individual(s): Put down your electronics, listen completely to what they are saying rather than focusing on your response and breathe deeply, allowing your breath to ground you. Your loved ones and friends will appreciate your attentiveness.
Tip 5: Practice nonjudgment throughout your day. When thoughts and judgements attached to internal states or outside circumstance arise, imagine them as leaves falling onto a stream and allowing the current to take them away. It is the stories we attach to experiences that increase our distress. Therefore, allow those thoughts to come and go without attachment.
Tip 6: We all have numerous tricks or habits to avoid experiencing uncomfortable feelings. However, when we attempt to numb or avoid disturbing emotions, it also means we cannot fully access more pleasant emotions naturally such as joy, love or peace. Therefore, it is beneficial to learn to sit with ALL feelings, whether pleasant or uncomfortable, to fully experience your life. When distress arises in yourself during your day, take a moment to relax into it. Ground yourself in your body by focusing on your breath and notice the sensations in your body, including urges to distract yourself. Allow all sensations and emotions to be there. Let go of any thoughts or judgements attached to the experience.
Tip 7: Practice a “soft gaze.” When we look in a narrow, focused way called “tunnel vision”, our sympathetic nervous system becomes activated which can lead to increased stress. After focusing on your computer screen or a task for a period of time, sit back, take some deep breathes and allow your gaze to open and relax into peripheral vision. Using our peripheral vision throughout moments in the day can bring our mind, body and emotions back to a state of rest or can be used to stay relaxed during presentations and public speaking.
Tip 8: Smile! Take a moment to smile and notice how it makes you feel. Studies demonstrate that smiling, whether forced or natural, releases chemicals in our brain called endorphins which are responsible for making us feel happy and relaxed. Endorphins also decrease the release of the stress hormone, Cortisol, which in turn reduces stress and pain. Take a few minutes to sit quietly, smile and notice how it makes you feel. Start incorporating smiling while you mindfully participate in your daily activities.
Photo source: Josh Claros @ joshclarosphotography.com