Being in the present moment.
For many of us, this concept immediately brings to mind some form of practiced meditation. Whether it is sitting quietly, walking slowly or simply lying on the ground with thoughts slowing until they only follow the slow rise and fall of breath.
When I left the Buddhist temple where I studied meditation, my teacher told me to practice a minimum of thirty minutes each day. For me, this is doable, but I wondered at the time; do most people have thirty minutes to set aside each day?
The majority of people I know live in a perpetual state of motion; rushing to and from work, running from one meeting to another, barely finishing one conversation on the phone before it rings again, constantly digging out from under mountains of emails, running to pick up and drop off their children, heading to yoga or to the gym, throwing together something to eat, before finally collapsing in bed.
It’s no wonder that although the evidence supporting the health benefits of mindfulness continues to increase, overall adoption has been low. People simply do not have time.
There are ways that you can begin now to incorporate mindful living practices into everyday life. Today, I am going to share 3 of my favorites.
Mindfulness Living Tip 3 – Pause at Doorways
Instead of walking straight through, treat doorways as a good way to check in with yourself. Pause for a moment and take a single breath just before walking through. I use this before entering meetings as a simple reset. A moment is usually all that is needed to check:
• How am I feeling?
• Am I carrying any emotion into this room or building that does not belong here?
This incorporated mindful pause helps me to not only understand how a day’s events are affecting me, but also by taking a small moment to acknowledge my feelings, I am able to walk into other engagements with a clearer head.
Mindfulness Living Tip 2- One Thing at a Time
We are a culture that values multi-tasking to the detriment of all else. We pride ourselves on our ability to do many things simultaneously.
For most people, multitasking has become a way of being, leaving most of us in a constantly distracted, unfocused state. We yap on the phone and answer emails at the same time, often to the detriment of either one or both of the tasks.
Research also shows that we are at our best when we are focused.
The best way I have found to put this rule into practice is to keep my phone silent when I am with someone. Even if I am simply going out for a friend for coffee, I dedicate that time to us by ensuring that we will not be interrupted by the phone.
If I am expecting an important phone call while I am out, I still keep my phone on silent but check it every 30 minutes. If I see that I have missed an important call, I still hold to the “one thing at a time” rule and excuse myself from the conversation to make a call.
Instead of doing a million things superficially, doing one thing at a time allows us more focus to really create depth in our daily interactions. In turn, we become better listeners, lovers, friends and parents.
Mindfulness Living Tip 1 – Let the Belly Lead
Most people breathe, speak and even laugh using air from the upper part of their chest. There are many studies that suggest that shallow breathing is a precursor to anxiety.
I always tell my students and my patients: let you belly lead. Laugh, speak and breathe from the belly. While many formal breathing exercises are best performed lying down, as long as your posture is straight, you can practice belly breathing at your desk while you work.
While performing belly breathing, be sure to:
• breathe in and out through your nose
• picture your belly like a balloon. Slowly inflate it with an inhale and deflate with an exhale.
• keep your breathing slow and steady. The length of the exhale should match that of the inhale.
I remember finding this incredibly difficult when I began and only doing it for a couple of minutes per day. I built up the amount of time I focused on speaking, laughing and breathing from my belly every day until belly breathing became an unconscious habit.
By incorporating any of the above Mindful Living Tips into your daily life, you will be able to slow down the hectic pace of your days.