One of the pros I have found most fascinating about mindfulness is how easily it can slip into my day-to-day life. It’s not like blocking out two hours of my day each day for the gym (half an hour travelling each way then an hour actually at the gym!). Instead it’s the act of going about my day-to-day ritual intentionally, rather than on auto-pilot. That’s what has made the process of being mindful so much easier for me than starting something like Yoga, Pilates or meditation of any form.
Before starting this blog work with Adrian Sonnex I had never really found the right tools. I was using an app called Headspace but that still required that I take a least 10 minutes out of my day to just sit still. Whilst I can do that now, at the time I definitely didn’t think I could. I had a million and one things going on… my dissertation, running a not-for-profit consultancy team (so work, admin and managing people!), exams to revise for, jobs to apply to, interviews to attend.. and that’s not to mention my (poor) attempt at a social life, or my three hour daily commute!
But once I started using the mindfulness tricks I’m about to reveal to you guys the whole process became a lot easier. That’s not to say I didn’t feel silly at first. I felt ridiculous.
These were tasks I performed everyday habitually or places I saw everyday. Yet, I was having to focus on them as if it were my first time doing them or seeing them. It doesn’t make any sense right? Of course I know how to tie my shoe laces, why should I have to focus on how I am doing it or how the shoe lace feels on my finger tips or the bottom of my foot on the sole of my shoe? Why should I draw my attention to how the bristles on my toothbrush feel when I brush my top teeth in comparison to my bottom teeth? It’s the same feeling every day, isn’t it?
But, I was patient. So, be patient, consistent and be kind to yourself throughout your practises. There is no right way to do it. Even when you feel you’re doing it wrong, you’re doing it right because you ARE doing it. Your mind can wonder a zillion times and that’s okay – just more opportunities of practising the art of bringing your mind back to what you are experiencing, with your five senses, at that moment in time.
Hack No. 1: Mindfulness in your Morning Routine
Pick an activity that constitutes part of your daily morning routine, such as brushing your teeth, shaving, or having a shower.
When you do it, totally focus on what you are doing: the body movements, the taste, the touch, the smell, the sight, the sound etc.
For example, when you’re in the shower, notice the sounds of the water as it sprays out of the nozzle, and as it hits your body as it gurgles down the plughole. Notice the temperature of the water, the feel of it in your hair, on your shoulders, running down your legs. Notice the smell of the soap and shampoo, and the feel of them against your skin. Notice the sight of the water droplets on the walls or shower screen, the water dripping down your body and the steam rising upwards. Notice the movements of your arms as you wash or scrub or shampoo.
When thoughts arise, acknowledge them, let them be, and bring your attention back to the shower.
Again and again, your attention will wander. As soon as you realise this has happened, gently acknowledge it, note what distracted you, and bring your attention back to the shower.
Hack No. 2: Notice 5 Things
This is a simple exercise to centre yourself and connect with your environment. Practise it throughout the day, especially any time you find yourself getting caught up in your thoughts and feelings.
- Pause for a moment
- Look around, and notice five things that you can see,
- Listen carefully, and notice five thing you can hear,
- Notice five things you can feel in contact with your body. (Your watch against your wrist, yours trousers against your legs, the air upon your face, your feet upon the floor, you’re back against the chair, etc.)
Hack No. 3: Mindfulness in Domestic Chores
Pick an activity such as ironing clothes, washing up, vacuuming floors, and do it mindfully.
E.g. when ironing clothes: Notice the colour and shape of the clothing, and the pattern made by the creases, and the new pattern as the creases disappear. Notice the hiss of the steam, the creak of the ironing board, the faint sound of the iron moving over the material. Notice the grip of your hand on the iron, and the movement of your arm and your shoulder.
If boredom or frustration arises, simply acknowledge it, and bring your attention back to the task at hand.
When thoughts arise, acknowledge them, let them be, and bring your attention back to what you are doing.
Again and again, your attention will wander. As soon as you realise this has happened, gently acknowledge it, note what distracted you, and bring your attention back to your current activity.
So there you have it guys. These have worked wonders for me and their effects have seeped into so many different areas of my life that the benefits are unquantifiable (those that know me know how much I love Maths and quantifying the unquantifiable, so this claim is a big one!). I truly hope it has just as great benefits for you and would love to hear how you get on with them.