When you think of mindful meditation, you might think of having to take time out of your day to sit cross-legged with your hands on your knees saying, “ohm.” You don’t have to practice meditation just this way though. Mindful meditation can be incorporated into activities and practiced in many different ways.
The main thing to know about mindful meditation is that it’s all about awareness in the present moment without judgment. It sounds so simple, yet so difficult, especially when we feel we don’t have enough time, but you just have to make it a priority. I’ve offered a few unique ways to practice mindful meditation:
If you ever walk your dog, walk during your lunch break, or walk to/from your car in the parking lot, you can practice walking meditation. To practice, choose a path where you want to practice walking meditation.
Let your arms hang, look straight ahead, and notice your breathing. As you walk, say “in” as you breathe in and say “out” as you breathe out. Sync the “in” with your left foot and your “out” with your right foot. When your mind wanders, come back to your breathing and become more aware of your senses and body motions. Try for 10-15 minutes.
2. Body Scan
You can practice this sitting or lying down in your bed with your eyes open or closed. Starting from the top of your head, imagine that your body is breathing in and out of this area and that every breath releases stress and tension. Continue down your body with your face, neck, shoulders, chest, abdomen, back, arms, hands, mid-area, upper legs, lower legs, feet, and toes. Go as slowly as you can, focusing back to your body when your mind wanders.
3. Practicing yoga
As soon as you roll out the mat, commit your mind fully for the entire length of time you’re practicing yoga. This is SO difficult for me, but I continue to work on it! Every move you make, notice how your body feels, challenge yourself to push further, and notice your breathing. The breath is everything in yoga, so if you ever feel your mind wander, come back to your breath.
When you’re in the car, maybe turn off the radio to spend that time by yourself. Notice how you’re feeling. Are you rushing? Are you angry? You have complete control to decide to enjoy the scenery, observe your surroundings, and staying calm. Notice your breath. Just breathe out the stress of the day and decide to shift your attitude toward being awesome and having a good day.
This is my favorite way to practice mindful meditation! Decide to turn off the TV or music and to make it just you and the meal. With every bite you take, notice how it feels and tastes on your tongue. As you chew, savor the flavors of your meal. As you sip your tea or coffee, enjoy the warmth of the liquid and how it feels running down your throat. Make every moment count.
When you’re in the shower, notice your thoughts. Are they wandering towards your worries? Planning out what you need to do for the day or what you have left to do? Instead, shift your awareness to the warmth of the water on your body, the touch of the loofah, the smell of the soap as you lather. Enjoy this time for yourself.
7. Reciting gathas
Last but not least, you can practice reciting gathas as you do trivial activities, like folding the laundry or washing dishes. These short poems can shift you back to the present moment when you wake up or fall asleep. You can learn more here.
The present is all we have. We can’t change the past, we can’t predict the future, so you might as well enjoy the little moments throughout the day to make the most of it. Be grateful for these moments. Focusing on the present with mindful meditation will help ease your anxiety, regulate your moods, and make your brain overall more resilient.
What suggestions do you have to practice mindful meditation?