Mindfulness is the ability to pay attention to the present moment, without judgment. It has tremendous health, well-being and productivity benefits. Like anything else, mindfulness can be learned and improved on with practice.
However, people who want to pursue mindfulness often have one question- how do they practice it?
Here, I’m sharing 7 tips to practice mindfulness in your daily life.
7 tips to practice mindfulness
1) Start really small
The most common mistake early practitioners of mindfulness make is to start too big. For example, they will commit to 60 minutes of meditation every day, or try to stay mindful throughout the day.
However, the issue is that this is simply not possible for most of us when we’re beginners. It’s much better if you commit to meditation for 5 minutes a day, and stick with it, rather than committing for an hour and quitting after three days.
Like all things, it’s best to start small- sometimes ridiculously small- and making small progress. You’ll be amazed at how much progress you end up making in a year with this kind of mindset.
2) Practice with the little things
It’s harder to commit to a formal practice for mindfulness, such as a meditation routine, because that demands extra time from your day. However, you can easily commit to doing mindfully some small activities that you do anyway.
For example, you could commit to practice mindfulness during your shower. This doesn’t require any extra time, and will make your shower much more enjoyable. Please try it!
You could also try drinking your tea or coffee mindfully, or walking from the parking to your office mindfully.
Gradually but surely, these little and informal periods of mindfulness add up to make the habitual energy of mindfulness take over your life.
3) Enjoy it
Some people think of mindfulness practice as a way to benefit their future-self by doing something in the now. This isn’t the best way to think of it.
The biggest and most obvious benefit of mindfulness is that it improves your life and enjoyment here and now- not in the future. It is not a sacrifice for your future self, but a gift to your present self.
If you enjoy a pizza, you may want to quit it if you are trying to lose weight (for the sake of your future self, your present self may make a sacrifice).
This is not the case with mindfulness. If you enjoy something, you will enjoy it even more when you do it mindfully- whether it’s eating your favourite food, dancing, listening to music, or making love.
4) Design your Environment for practicing mindfulness in daily life
Your environment can have many cues to remind you of your mindfulness practice.
Monasteries often strike the bells as a reminder to the monks to return to their breathing and bring back their attention to the present moment.
In a similar way, you too can design reminders or “bells of mindfulness”. One type of bell is literally a reminder on your smartphone every hour or every fifteen minutes.
There can be other “bells of mindfulness” in your environment- such as a note on your mirror or fridge, wallpaper on your computer, or a beautiful picture of a peaceful baby on the wall.
These reminders will invite you to dwell fully in the present moment mindfully, without getting lost in the past or the future.
5) Start with walking meditation
In our day and sometimes people find it difficult to just sit and do nothing. We are too restless, and too used to stimulation.
A gentler way to start your practice could be walking meditation, where you can take slow, deliberate and happy steps while enjoying whatever is around you.
If something catches your attention, such as a beautiful flower or a smiling child, please stop and enjoy these gifts mindfully. You may take a few moments to smell the flower, or smile back gently at the child. When you resume your walk, you will be more peaceful and even more mindful.
Walking meditation is a wonderful gift- please enjoy it.
6) Don’t judge yourself
Do not be too keen to judge yourself in your practice. Let it do it’s own thing. Your daily mindfulness practice is like planting a little seed and watering it. If you judge, it’s like digging the soil every day to see if the plant is growing. It cannot grow under such a situation.
Please be gentle and kind to yourself. You will develop a deeper practice if you feel good about yourself, instead of having the energy of judgment, comparison, or guilt.
7) Seek online resources to help you
We are blessed to live in a time where resources to develop mindfulness are available easily, especially for those with the internet. You can watch thousands of videos on YouTube on this topic, read e-Books, or download mobile applications.
I have also prepared a short mindfulness kit. You can get a list of resources as well as a couple of videos on mindfulness for free in this kit by signing up below.