Seven everyday mindfulness practices to enhance your wellbeing
As we enter the New Year, it’s a good time to pause and consider our everyday habits and how we can make a little space for ourselves to improve our own wellbeing.
Mindfulness is a commitment to yourself. I live with anxiety, which I used to allow steal growth opportunities from me, overcome me, and at times, rule me. Through committing to mindfulness as part of my daily practice, I give myself at least 30 minutes every day to be in the moment. It doesn’t always mean coming to my mat to sit in practice for 30 minutes at a time; it is being mindful in every day moments.
Mindfulness will enable you to get to know yourself better. You will make a journey of personal exploration so that you discover what states of mind cause you suffering, and what cause happiness.
“We only have moments to live,” are wise words from western mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn. Life just ‘is’. Humans have a tendency to mourn the past, and look forward to the future, and forget that the present moment is all we have – a present. It’s a gift to be experienced, embraced, and lived. Inner peace is the real source of our happiness. It is something that we all have the potential to cultivate. Mindfulness can help the journey.
Here are seven everyday mindfulness practices to enhance your wellbeing.
1. The body scan
Spend a couple of minute scanning your body. Have your eyes open, or with a soft gaze, and start scanning from your feet, and work up to your head. Using a beginners’ mind, scan your body as if you have never experienced it before. Consider heat, cold, sensations, emerging thoughts, discomfort, comfort, density, sounds, and emotions. You are not attempting to change anything, you are aware of your breath, and your body. What can you observe?
2. Walking meditation
Often, we walk without awareness of our feet touching the ground, of life passing by us and around us, or of the seasons changing around us. This leads to a disconnection from ourselves, as well as the world around us.
When you go for a walk, walk consciously. It helps to walk at a slightly slower pace than your normal pace. Mindfully notice each step. Breathe in, and make one step. Notice your experience when you walk in a connected way. Breathe out, and step again.
3. Mindful sensory walking
We can widen our experience from mindful walking to sensory walking. I am sharing mindful colour walking, however it can be mindful taste, hearing, touch (of the rain, sun, wind) or smell.
Choose a colour for your focus for a mindful colour walk. During a winter mindful colour walk on a recent retreat, we chose white as our colour to focus on. When we returned to the room, we discussed our amazement at how many colours we found, when at first all we could see was green. There was an array of purples, reds, yellows, blues and oranges. It gave purpose to our walk and the opportunity to connect with the richness of colour around us, and deepened our experience.
4. Mindful eating
Another automatic and mindless process is eating. Often, we eat too quickly, and we don’t taste the beautiful food. This can lead to overeating, and problems with digestion. When we eat slowly and mindfully, we chew at least ten times before swallowing. It helps to put your spoon, knife or fork down between mouthfuls to help you do this, and avoid the ‘shoveling’ approach to eating.
Your gratitude and enjoyment of your food will increase the more you incorporate this into your daily life. You will notice your thoughts as you eat, and the taste and texture explosions happening in your mouth will be enhanced.
5. Mindful movement
Tchich Nhat Hanh’s ten mindful movements are a great way to start any day. Mindful movement doesn’t have to be formal mindful movement practice, however. All movement can be enjoyed mindfully. It can be enjoying the pleasure of pulling on a jumper – how tight or loose it feels to pull over your head, how the wool feels against your skin, and how your body embraces the texture, warmth and fit of the jumper. Choose a mindful movement to explore every day: brushing your teeth, coming your hair, putting on your trainers, walking the stairs at work, or carrying bags from your car.
Set your Outlook or an alarm to hit the pause button once an hour. It is so easy to allow days to drift past, whereas all we have is right here and now. The technique is to 1) stop – and just be. 2) Take three breaths, and be aware of the breath moving in and out of your body. 3) Observe what is happening in your body and mind.
7. For the bad moments – letting go
We all have thoughts and feelings that emerge. It can be a result of overwork, multi tasking, perceived unfairness, attachment to past memories or future anxieties. We can have a good hour, followed swiftly by a bad hour.
Sometimes we allow our thoughts to race, unchecked, and before we know it, we are having an internal dialogue about things we have no control of. The past, the actions of others, the future are examples. We are stealing the opportunity to live in the moment.
Mindfulness allows us to have conscious awareness of the thought processes, and feelings we are experiencing right now. The more you get used to stopping, the more awareness you have of the state of your being.
The art is to recognise when this is happening, because then we have choice. If you can breathe and pause the next time you have awareness of a bad moment, which could be a bad feeling, feeling negative thoughts about someone, or speaking harshly, stop and breathe. Breathe into your body, with full awareness of the breath going into your body. Have awareness of how naturally your body looks after you by letting go of the breath.
Once you recognise you are thinking, you can choose to keep with the thoughts, or let the thoughts go, just as your body does with your out breath. Sometimes we hold onto things, whereas letting go can actually be the kindest thing to do for our wellbeing.
Mindfulness and wellbeing
Mindfulness will enable you to get to know yourself better. You will make a journey of personal exploration so that you discover what states of mind cause you suffering, and what cause happiness. We can then make enlightened choices about how we live in the moment. I hope you make the time to help you understand yourself better, be more grateful, live a richer, more connected life, and let go of the things you don’t need.
Please share your experiences with me by leaving a comment below.
Interested in this topic? You can read more of Kay Buckby's articles in her content series, The mindful trainer.
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Kay uses a learner driven, experiential approach in her work. She is always prepared to be challenged with unusual development requests, and often uses actors for drama workshops to embed knowledge, skills and attitudenal change.
Kay has held a variety of roles in her career - sales and marketing, office manager, HR person, Financial...