Mindfulness means being open, curious and fully attentive to one’s experiences as they happen, often using yoga and meditation to heighten consciousness. From the workplace to the sports field, mindfulness is all the buzz these days.
“As there are physical sciences to create external well-being,” there is “science for inner well-being,” researchers from the Symbiosis International University, based in Pune, India, note in a study of mindfulness.
Consider these five simple ways to help get a daily dose of mindfulness in your super-busy schedule:
BREATHING: One of the greatest practices in mindfulness is focused breathing.
Taking slower and more measured breaths through the nose, rather than the mouth, slows the heart rate, helps lower blood pressure and generally stimulates areas in the brain as emotions, memories and smell, research shows.
EXPRESSING GRATITUDE: Writing down things for which you are grateful and reflecting on what these things mean to you can have positive impact on you and those around you.
The “gratitude journal” is especially effective when you focus on specific people you’re grateful to have in your life.
SMILING: A smile can relax hundreds of muscles in your face, and relax your nervous system, says Thich Nhat Hahn, author of Being Peace, a book that advocates smiling as a therapy.
This can be practiced all day, during walking, work, or even when attending to the kitchen or garden, he says. “At first you may find it difficult to smile, and we have to think about why. Smiling means that we are ourselves, that we are not drowned into forgetfulness,” Thich writes.
WALKING: There is walking, and then there is walking meditation. Walking meditators are immersed in every act of their step.
“You can learn to enjoy walking for its own sake … to bring your body, heart and mind together as your move through your life,” writes Jack Kornfield, author of The Wise Heart.
DRIVING: While your car may not be the place to do downward-facing dog (the celebrated yoga pose that resembles a stretching dog), the daily commute can be a great time to practice mindfulness, says Maria Gonzalez, author of Mindful Leadership: The 9 Ways to Self-Awareness, Transforming Yourself, and Inspiring Others.
Gonzalez suggests in an article for the Harvard Business Review taking a few deep breaths once you are seated and buckled up, and become aware of your body and the sights and sounds around you.
“The idea is that you are continuously aware of three things: your body, what you see, and what you hear. This is what it is to be mindfully present as you drive,” Gonzalez writes.