Do you ever find yourself avoiding your meditation cushion? Whether subconsciously or on purpose, you’re not making the time to sit.
Or have you tried meditating, and you’ve decided it’s not for you?
Luckily, meditation and mindfulness are not one in the same. You don’t have to meditate in order to be mindful. Mindfulness is a nonjudgmental awareness of thoughts, sensations, surroundings, and emotions, and meditation is one tool for developing mindfulness but isn’t the only tool.
When you are consciously bringing your wandering mind back to the present moment, you are cultivating mindfulness. You can do that in everyday life by tuning into your surroundings.
Experiment with using your senses to notice these new things as you move throughout your day, and see what happens.
1. Notice Your Bed
When you first wake up, notice the feeling of your sheets against your skin and your mattress and pillow supporting you. Feel the air against your face, and notice the air temperature.
2. Take a Mindful Sip
Stop for a moment to savour your morning beverage of choice. Smell and examine your coffee or tea before taking a slow sip. Close your eyes and wholly feel and taste the liquid on your tongue before swallowing.
3. Savor Your Shower
Have you ever truly paid attention in the shower? What does the water feel like as it hits your skin? Notice the soap as it lathers, and tune into the feeling of the soap on your skin. Mindfully massage your scalp as you shampoo your hair.
4. Cherish Your Family Members
If you have children or a partner at home, can you notice something new about their morning routines? With nonjudgmental curiosity, observe their moods, energy levels, morning greetings, and favourite breakfast items. What can you notice that you’ve never seen them do before?
5. Consciously Commute
If you drive to work, try tuning into the feel of your steering wheel in your hands, and notice the air conditioning or heat against your skin. If you’re on a train, subway, or bus, first pat yourself on the back for taking mass transportation. Then tune into the feel of your seat, and take in your surroundings by noticing who is with you and what you can see and hear.
6. Look Up
Pause to take in the sky above you. Are there clouds? What do they look like? Do you see any birds or trees? Can you see something in the sky that you’ve never seen before?
7. Truly See Your Colleagues
Is there something new you can notice about your coworkers? Perhaps the person next to you listens to classical music or has photographs of her family on his or her desk. Maybe your boss has a skip in his or her step today.
8. Slowly Munch on Lunch
Before digging into your lunch, take a moment to examine it. What colours and textures do you see? What does it smell like? Take a small bite and allow your mouth to take it all in by noticing what the food feels like. Is it crunchy or soft? What tastes do you observe? Does the flavor change as you swallow? Try to take several slow and mindful bites. If your mind wanders, try to bring it back to the process of eating.
9. Take a Hike
Stretch your legs in the afternoon with a walk around the block, and allow your senses to engage with your environment. Can you see something that you’ve never seen before, whether it’s on the ground, on the side of a building, or high in the sky? What do you hear? Tune into each step and notice what your legs do and how they feel with each step. Also notice your feet and the important job they have.
10. Scan Your Body
Take a moment to close your eyes and tune into your body. Start at your toes and move up, observing each body part until you reach the top of your head. Be curious about what you find, noticing any tension, lightness, heat, pain, or other sensations. Notice if the mind wanders and creates stories about those feelings. If so, see if you can bring the mind back to the sensations without judging them.
11. Notice Your Social Media Use
Do you have a habit of checking Facebook or Instagram without even knowing it? Start tuning into those habits and see if you can be more intentional with your time. Once again, don’t judge yourself for the time you spend on social media, simply observe it.
12. Appreciate the Sunset
Step outside to take in the unique colours of the sunset, and try to notice something you’ve never spotted before. Is there a cloud shape that reminds you of something or someone? What colours do you see? How does the air temperature change once the sun dips below the horizon?
13. Glimpse at the Moon and Stars
The night sky offers up a feast for your eyes. When is the last time you truly looked at the stars and moon? Take the time to examine what’s beyond the atmosphere and allow yourself to feel awe if it arises.
14. Listen to the Sound of Silence
As you make your final moves toward bedtime, stop, close your eyes, and listen. What do you hear, and what don’t you hear? Can you notice the sounds or silence with curiosity, allowing your ears to hear the texture of each sound?
Practicing mindfulness throughout your everyday life can help train the mind to focus on the present, with or without cushion. Observe what happens when you make noticing a priority.