Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment. The regular practice of mindfulness over a period of time can have a profound impact on our health and well-being.
Meditation is often thought of as the best means for practicing mindfulness. However, it can be very useful to think broadly about mindfulness practice, particularly in a busy world. In fact, it is precisely the practice of mindfulness in the midst of daily chaos that makes this practice so profound. As mindfulness becomes more integrated into our way of being in the world, it increasingly allows us to shift our awareness in ways that can help us deal more effectively with stress and anxiety, while simultaneously enhancing our capacity to experience pleasure and satisfaction.
Everyday mindfulness is one way we can exercise our attention on a regular basis without having to change anything in our routine or set aside time for meditation, although this is still highly recommended. We can practice everyday mindfulness by bringing our attention more fully to the present moment and focusing on our senses in the here-and-now. The following are my favorite examples for practicing everyday mindfulness.
Taking a shower. Bring your attention to the warmth and calming sensations of the water on your skin and the smell of the soap or shampoo.
Brushing your teeth. Bring your attention to the feeling of the brush as well as the taste of the toothpaste.
Walking. Bring your attention to the movement of your legs with each step and the pressure of your feet on the ground. If you are outside, notice the feeling of the breeze on your face or the sunshine. Notice anything else that brings your awareness to the present moment, such as the sounds of birds or passing cars.
Folding laundry or doing dishes. Notice the feeling of the clothing and bring your awareness to the repetition of folding without needing to rush. Notice the feeling of the water on your hands and the repetition of placing dishes with care.
Eating a meal. Bring your attention to each bite of food. Notice the taste and the texture. You may also practice chewing each bite more completely and reflect upon the source of the food you are eating. Notice how your body feels and bring your attention to feeling full at a nature pace.
In each of these examples, the core practice involves bringing your attention back to the present moment or here-and-now as our mind will naturally wonder. In bringing our attention back to the present, we are exercising our attention and strengthening our ability to connect to the here-and-now.
There are endless possibilities for practicing everyday mindfulness, but it might be helpful to select one or two of these to get started. I feel confident that regular practice of everyday mindfulness can have a positive impact on your well-being and enhance your capacity to be fully present in your life.
Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Visit us at lindquistpsych.com