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10 Ways to Practice Mindfulness Without Hitting the Meditation Mat

10 Ways to Practice Mindfulness Without Hitting the Meditation Mat

Research suggests mindfulness is a valuable addition to our lives but, what if life just keeps getting in the way or, more pointedly, if you keep getting in your own way, of your practice?

Don’t worry.

You can integrate mindfulness practices into your life without ever going near a meditation mat.

Here are some mini-mindfulness tips to help you out:

1. Drop all your expectations about what mindfulness is.

Being present in any activity in your day to day life counts as mindfulness practice and that presence does not have to be accessorised by mala beads or a meditation altar.

Your mind won’t go blank! You will still have thoughts but you will try to guide your attention back to the breath, an activity, the moment. You will have to redirect your attention away from your thoughts many many times, as if you were training a frisky puppy to sit.

Most of all, be compassionate with yourself if you don’t meet your own expectations of mindfulness. Try to see each little practice as a bonus rather than missing ones as failures. Even 5-10 seconds of mindfulness at a time is useful.

2. When brushing your teeth, just brush your teeth.

We all brush our teeth and, whether in the shower or otherwise, just commit to focusing on the act of brushing while you do it.

Feel the sensation of the gel, the scrub against your gums. Observe the sensations. Still got thoughts intruding? That’s ok, notice you got distracted by your thoughts and come back to the toothbrushing. Watch the motion. Keep coming back, again and again. You’ll get better as the days go by and anyway, even a few seconds of mindfulness counts!

You can try this while sweeping, showering, washing dishes, packing the dishwasher or any regular daily activity. Pick one and make that your go-to mindful activity.

3. Mind the bell.

Go to this link Mindfulness Bell and set up a mindfulness bell to ring periodically throughout the day to remind you to take a moment to be present at your desk. 

When it rings, commit to stop working, close your eyes and, just focus on your body, your breath.

Take a deep breath in and sigh that breath out, relaxing your body at the same time. Repeat 2-3 times. These deep breaths give you a nice big hit of serotonin, the neurotransmitter in our brains associated with calm and happiness!

4. Use your fingers.

The most handy (excuse the pun), and portable, mindfulness tools are your 10 fingers. On the bus, in a line, wherever….use each finger to count a breath in and out. Wiggle the thumb and breathe in and out…repeat for each finger.

10 fingers. 10 breaths.

              Ahhh! Bliss is in your hands.

5. Have a mindful glass of H2O

Get up now, grab a glass of water and, without doing anything else, just observe the sensations of drinking that water. How does the cup feel? What does the water smell like? How is the temperature? The water in your mouth? If your attention wanders to thoughts, gently bring it back to the sensations of drinking water. 

6. Buy a fish.

Watch it swim around in its tank. Follow every movement. Focus on the fish, bringing your attention back from your running internal dialogue to the fish often. Repeat.

7. When life gives you lemons….

Buy a single lemon. Sit down for an encounter with the lemon. Feel its skin, the temperature, the way it feels against your face. Close your eyes. Smell it. Listen to it. Rub it against your cheek. Cut it open slowly and lick it. Observe the taste and your reaction. Squeeze it with your hands, mash the pulp in your hands. Explore the seeds. Enjoy the different textures. Lemons are not just for lemonade!

8. Blow bubbles.

Buy some cheap bubble mix and leave it on your balcony table or in your lounge room. Take 5 minutes just to blow bubbles. Blow big bubbles, blow small bubbles, blow many bubbles all at once. Watch the bubbles rise and fall and pop. Do it again. Observe any thoughts arising, note them as thoughts and come back to the bubbles.

9. Colour in.

Buy a kid’s colouring book, some markers, sit down and colour in. Stay in the lines and vary the speed and intensity of your colouring. Really throw yourself into it, savouring the process of applying colour to paper. Remember to keep calling your wandering attention back to colouring in!

10. Be spacious awareness, like the sky.

Whenever you find yourself thinking,  when you actually need some mental space, take a deep breath in and sigh it out. Repeat 3 times.

That’s better.

Now close your eyes, let your breath settle into its normal rhythm.

Imagine you are the sky: spacious, expansive and clear. Your thoughts are like clouds. Let them pass through without grasping or rejecting them, just as the sky does with the clouds. There may be many, or few clouds. Never mind that, just let those clouds travel through without judging or naming them.

Be the spacious, infinite, clear, awareness.

Nothing to do, nowhere to go, just breathe and relax (if only for a few moments).

If you would like further instruction on mindfulness practice, contact us.

Mindfulness is just one of the tools employed to enhance well-being and, if it isn’t for you, there are many other tools our therapists have to offer you.

By Leigh Matthews

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