How can we be in a state of mindfulness in daily life?
Often, even if we have a regular mindfulness practice, we can find daily life so busy and stressful that we leave that state of present moment awareness far behind. Consider this, for the whole if human history, most people didn’t ever move faster than walking pace… even the rich would rarely ride on a fast horse. So our bodies are programmed to move at a slow pace through generations of history. Yet we think nothing of jumping in a car and find 60 km an hour quite slow! What does it do to our nervous systems to be moving at this pace, to be multitasking or to be sitting still and dealing with a frenetic mental activity as we jump from one email to another, and back to another task that the incoming email distracted us from!!
Stress is the biggest killer in the west, and mindfulness in daily life is a great antidote.
Ways to slow down and find mindfulness in daily life:
- A great stress buster is to pause between tasks and take three breathes.
- Use natural gaps in activity… like traffic lights or a supermarket queue as opportunities to feel your feet on the ground and to watch your breathing rather than reasons for frustration…. If something is frustrating, be mindful of the frustration: how does it feel in your body, what happens if you breathe into it?
- Walk slowly and treat it as a walking meditation: Notice how you place each foot on the ground
- Take the long way home and walk through a park
- Make sure you take a lunch break rather than eating at your desk… go to the park, get outdoors and breath the air!
- Find small moments of human connection…. Really say hello and goodbye to the supermarket clerk, or to the customer service agent on the phone.
- Take the time to really connect with those close to you when you see them… hug your partner goodbye before leaving for work rather than just running out the door….. and do the same when you arrive home instead of just flopping down on the couch.
When we take time we make time. In my experience, small moments of mindfulness in daily life can stop days and weeks from disappearing in a blur and help us to savour life. After all life is not a dress rehearsal, so make the most out of it, rather than forever waiting for a better future!