Do you ever feel like you are constantly waiting for something better? For example, standing in the elevator waiting to get to an appointment, trudging through work waiting for the weekend, washing the dishes while counting the days until the next vacation. We spend hours daydreaming of something “better” while we largely ignore the mundane activities of life. The problem is the majority of our life is made up of the mundane activities.
Learning how to integrate mindfulness into your everyday life helps make the tedious and boring aspects of life more interesting. While we don’t need to be mindful 24/7, setting aside 10 minutes of mindfulness everyday can brighten and enliven our day-to-day routines.
You don’t have to meditate or take mindful photos to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness simply means bringing your attention to the present moment.
Here are 9 ways to be mindful every day:
Eating is a healthy, natural, and pleasurable way to satisfy hunger and mindfulness make the experience more engaging. Choose a piece of food for this exercise. It could be a raisin, a bit of toast, or an apple slice. Begin by taking a moment to honor the food. Think of how this piece of food will sustain and nourish your body. Allow yourself to feel gratitude for it. Before eating, take a moment to engage all five senses and observe the piece of food. Then carefully place it in your mouth and slowly chew, again, engaging all five senses as you bring your awareness to this simple action. Finally notice the sensations in your mouth and throat as you swallow your food. This is a great way to begin a meal. Many find that they enjoy their meal more and eat a more appropriate proportion when they begin the meal with a quick mindful eating exercise.
Mindfully Drinking a Beverage
This exercise is very similar to mindful eating, except you are drinking instead. Pour a cup of whatever beverage you desire. Begin by observing the beverage in the cup with all 5 senses, and then slowly sip it, noticing how it tastes and smells, and noticing the way it feels and it moves into your mouth and down your throat.
“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the earth revolves.”
Thích Nhất Hạnh
Washing the Dishes
Washing the dishes is often seen as a mundane, necessary evil. However, by transforming the experience into a mindful exercise, you will begin to learn that nothing in life is mundane. It is all extraordinary. As you begin washing, take a moment to feel the water on your hands. Notice its temperature and the speed it falls against your skin. Pick up a dish and slowly rinse and clean it, noticing its texture and weight. Notice the feeling of satisfaction that arises when you wash away gunk and grime and the dish becomes clean again. Notice the motion of your arms and hands. Breathe in the smell of the soap and suds. Notice your body’s weight and balance as you stand. Continue this focus during the length of your meditation.
Taking a Shower
This exercise is perfect for those who have trouble finding the time to meditate on a daily basis. As you enter the shower, take a moment to feel the water fall against your skin. Notice it’s temperature and pressure. Breathe in deeply and allow the steam to clear your airways. As you lather and rinse, engage your senses and keep your mind on the present activity. Consider the renewal you feel as you wash away the dirt, sweat, and grime.
Driving in a Car
Practicing mindfulness is one of safest things you can do while operating a vehicle. As you drive, keep your mind in the present moment instead of becoming lost in thought. Turn down the radio, and settle into your seat. First become aware of any tension or knots in your body. Breathe in deeply a few times to relax and engage your body. Notice your general mood and attitude. Do you feel competitive or calm and controlled? Adjust your attitude as necessary. Become aware of your environment by checking your mirrors and glancing to each side. Notice the cars around you and their driving behavior, notice the condition of the roads, and how the weather may be affecting the drive. Evaluate which aspects of the present moment to direct your total attention towards and which aspects to ignore. As cars cut you off, repeat the phrase, “May you be well, may you be happy” in order to keep your attitude safe and relaxed for a more pleasant and safe experience.
Taking a Mindful Walk
A mindful walk is one of my favorite meditation exercises. Simply take a walk and keep your thoughts in the present moment instead of letting them wander off. Focus on the temperature, the ground’s pressure against the bottom of your feet. Take a moment to look at the landscapes surrounding you. Notice how the sky hits the horizon. Notice the patterns of building, trees, hills, or mountains. Then narrow your focus to what surrounds you close by. Pick up rocks and leafs and engage your senses in exploring them individually. Notice the different sensations that arise in your body as you move.
Opening a Door
We open doors all day long. It’s a simple activity that is usually ignored, but by turning it into a mindfulness activity we not only are able to fit mindfulness into the little corners of life, but we can also cultivate awareness and gratitude for the simple pieces of life we often dismiss. Every time you open a door, do it mindfully. Pay close attention to how to use your body to open it. Do you turn a doorknob? Do you push your hip against the door to move it open? Listen to the sounds that occur each time you open the door. Notice the clicks, swishes, and creaks that result. Pay attention to how you feel as you open a door. Do you feel nervous and stressed as you walk through a door to work and relieved and relaxed when you pass through the same door to leave?
Looking out the Window
Whether you are commuting on a train or waiting in a doctor’s waiting room, take a moment to look out the window. Keep your thoughts on the present moment and focus on what you see. It’s a simple activity, but can help you learn to appreciate the interesting, vibrant world surrounding us that often goes unnoticed.
As you enjoy intimacy with your partner, consider practicing mindfulness during those close moments. Focus your mind and body on the present experience instead getting lost in other thoughts. Be fully aware of your physical sensations as they develop, and notice your emotions and the come and go. Take time to also notice your partner’s experience and how your influence affects them.
As you learn to incorporate mindfulness into your everyday activities, you’ll find the mundane things of life to be more bearable, and you might even find them to be enjoyable.