Did you see the sunset last night? Or were you too busy trying to cook dinner, wrangle the kids, unwind from work, pick up the house and catch the news, all at the same time?
In your rush to catch up from yesterday and prepare for tomorrow, you may lose your connection with today. You might be missing the wonderful, subtle moments that make life worthwhile, such as listening to your child talk about her day, slowly inhaling the aroma of dinner wafting through the air, or just watching the sun light up the horizon as it sets.
You may be missing these golden nuggets of life simply because your brain is too busy to notice them. The typical American life is jam-packed with work, school, family, and responsibility. Modern humans tend to move from one situation to another, and react to each situation based on their experiences in the past or concerns about the future. Mindfulness teaches you to focus your attention on the present and accept it without judgment.
Mindfulness helps you stay in the here and now. It also trains you to observe the here and now without getting caught up the exhausting emotional drama of everyday life. Practicing mindfulness helps you accept your experiences, including emotionally difficult ones, instead of reacting with fear, loathing, or avoidance.
Achieving mindfulness takes time, patience, and practice to achieve its full benefits. Fortunately, you can incorporate mindfulness into your daily life and enjoy all the benefits this clarifying mindset can offer.
Benefits of Mindfulness
Mindfulness improves your well-being, physical health, and mental health. Practicing mindfulness can improve your well-being by helping you develop thought processes and attitudes that contribute to feelings of satisfaction. Being mindful helps you recognize, enjoy, and savor life’s pleasures as they occur. Mindfulness helps you fully engage in activities and deal with problems as they arise.
Practicing mindfulness is good for your physical health in that it helps relieve stress, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, ease digestive problems, and help you sleep. Mindfulness is also good for your mental health. Researchers have found that mindfulness can reduce stress, especially in veterans and other adults with mental health conditions, ease some types of pain, and improve sleep.
Practicing Mindfulness in Your Everyday Life
Incorporate mindfulness into your everyday life – the more you practice mindfulness, the easier it is to remain present throughout the day.
1. Start each day with a clear decision to be as present as possible. Pause for just a moment as you get out of bed and set this intention in your mind.
2. Perform each task – especially the small jobs – consciously. Give all your attention to washing your hands, for example, or driving your car during your morning commute. Connect with your senses as you perform each task; do not allow yourself to get lost in thought as you work. Do not worry if you find that you work a little slower at first; the deliberate pace of mindfulness will pay off in the long run as you find joy in those little moments that make up your day.
3. Become a “single-tasker” by focusing on only one thing at a time. Multitasking overworks your brain and prevents you from giving your full attention to the task at hand.
4. Incorporate mindfulness into your yoga practice. Start each yoga session with mindfulness meditation. Remind yourself to be aware of the connection between your mind and your body as you stretch, turn, breathe and balance through your yoga poses.
5. Integrate specific poses that support mindfulness. Perform the corpse pose to help you focus on the simple act of breathing. Do the eye-of-the-needle pose to raise awareness of the tension in your body, especially in those pain-points in your hips and lower back. The cat-cow makes you aware of your mind’s tendency to wander and gives you an opportunity to practice staying focused. The mountain pose helps you understand what happens when you just stand there, occupying space.
Incorporating mindfulness into your yoga practice and into your everyday routine can help you find satisfaction in every aspect of your life, from succeeding at work to enjoying your time at home.