With the stress and demands of daily life, staying on a path of mindfulness takes some effort. Many of us feel pressure to be on 24/7. Mindfulness is considered the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one's attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment. When we are mindful we notice details---an expression, a flower or leaf. How do we quiet the mind to create this kind of centering peace?
We can cultivate and develop our own ability to be mindful through practice. I enjoy helping my clients develop their own, unique strategy for keeping balanced and mindful. There are many ways to get there. We each need to develop practices we can use daily, as mindfulness needs to be gotten fresh daily, like showering.
When we are mindful, we have more energy, higher levels of compassion for ourselves and others, we are calmer and more relaxed, and are less vulnerable to anxiety and depression. Mindfulness increases self-acceptance.
Here are some ideas for creating mindfulness in your daily routine:
1. Create quiet time for yourself. Silence is powerful, and helps heal and give you clarity.
2. Exercise, to burn off stress and nervous energy.
3. Get outside. Try to spend a little time outside, on a walk or in your garden every day if you can.
4. Create sacred rituals--- a cup of herbal tea and some inspired reading first thing in the morning, a Saturday bike ride, play time with your dog after work, a fireside chat with your partner each evening.
5. Journal daily. Writing allows you to process emotions and events and give you perspective.
6. Take time for quiet prayer or conversations with God.
7. Meditation. Sit quietly and usher out any thoughts that come up. Don't worry about 'doing it right'. Consider this time your daily meeting with yourself.
8. Reconnect with life: do something creative with your hands, observe animals and nature, focus on your breath.
9. Make note of 3 different things you are grateful for daily. Consider your friendships, your body, your home, happy memories, things about yourself.
10. Lie down and do nothing. Be aware of your breath. Scan your body for any tension and let it go.
11. Let yourself feel--anger, sadness, or loss.
12. Challenge yourself to accept what is.
13. Eat with mindfulness--slowly, and with reverence.
14. Taking time for a cup of tea.
15. Express appreciation.
If you are needing some help with getting started, you might check out the simple exercises in The Little Book of Mindfulness: Ten Minutes a Day to Less Stress, More Peace by Dr. Patricia Collard (Gala, 2014).
I also love the free downloads of guided mindfulness practice you can find through UCLA's Mindful Awareness Research Center at marc.ucla.edu. Their 9 minute meditation on loving kindness is one of my personal favorites, and would make anyone have a better day filled with more compassion and less edges.
Set your mind to cultivating mindfulness in your everyday life. It's all in the details of consciously creating rituals that slow you down and open up your heart.