If you came here to learn some sexy new things you can post photos of yourself doing on Instagram or some ground-breaking new age techniques you’re in the wrong place. There’s nothing sexy about what I’m going to say and I wouldn’t classify these practices as new age by a long shot. The truth is you’re already doing all of these things everyday. It’s not the doing that counts — it’s how you do them and how one very small mindset tweak can rewire your entire life.
I’ve had a pretty solid meditation practice for the last five years and while it has absolutely changed my life, it’s not what makes up the bulk of my mindfulness practice. When I first started to meditate I had no idea what mindfulness was. I honestly didn’t know much about meditation, but I was desperate to silence a my life-long relationship with anxiety. Little did I know the path to mindfulness was far from merely sitting in silence with my legs crossed.
If you’ve wanted to develop a mindfulness practice but meditation just isn’t your jam, all hope is not lost. I guarantee you are already doing every single one of these things in your life — just in a mindless manner. Mindfulness isn’t only about being in the moment; it’s knowing you’re in the moment. It’s devoting full attention to what you’re doing right now. You’re not planning next week’s dinner or thinking about that awkward interaction you had earlier at the gas station because you suck at small-talk. You are here doing your thing in this very moment with laser focus. Alright, so what is the magical key to bring mindfulness into these five things you’re already doing? Mantras. No really, it’s just like repeating mantras in meditation to keep you in the moment — but instead of mantras you’re telling yourself what you’re doing in this moment. Eventually you won’t need to repeat to yourself what you’re doing because your mind will learn to stop wondering. Of course, it will wonder during times of stress. That’s just what minds do, but for the most part you will rewire your brain to live in the moment. So behold — the five extremely average/ kind of boring things that can change you’re life and rewire your brain with a single mindset trick.
The Practice of Conversation
Globally, the art of conversation is dying. If you live in America, like myself, you might often question whether it’s already dead and gone. We are too distracted, too self absorbed and too stressed out to hold a nourishing conversation. Stop! It’s time to relearn and practice the art of conversation. Put your phone down. Turn the TV off. I get it, I hate small talk (remember the gas station interaction earlier) but conversation is different. It’s finding someone you connect with and stepping into their mind and inviting them into yours. It’s what disconnects us from being separate human beings, to what makes us a collective soul. Look around and notice how many people are staring at their phones while talking instead of cherishing the connection of humanity right in front of them. Conversation is sexy and not in any romantic or physical sense, but in the way that someone is inviting you into their life. A mindful conversation is looking someone in the soul and using your words as a form of gratitude for the connection they’ve allowed you to make in this life.
The Practice of Cleaning
Let’s just go ahead and get this one over with. Remember, I warned you that there was nothing exciting about these practices. While battling manic depression and anxiety years ago I realized one of the only things that would help calm my mind was cleaning. Let me just state for the record that I was never a tidy or organized person so this was a shock to me (and everyone else). It took me a long time to make the correlation between the two but apparently it’s a well known mindfulness practice. Buddhist monks clean their monasteries as a daily mindfulness practice. They believed that cleaning ones exterior space clears the interior spaces of the mind. This explains why cleaning was so therapeutic when I was struggling mentally. It’s easy for our minds to wander while cleaning so this is where your mantra will come into play. When wiping a counter tell yourself I am spraying the counter, I am wiping the counter. Yes, it sounds boring but cleaning is already boring so why not make it therapeutic?
The Practice of Movement
Not to be confused with exercise. Next time you go for a walk leave your phone at home. Nobody wants to see the photos you post of those trees or your sweaty body. Those photos only get likes because other people are mindlessly scrolling to escape the moment. When was the last time you sat on a bench mid walk without pulling out your phone? Feel the burn of the hot July sun on your skin, look a stranger in the eyes and smile as you pass. Turn off your TV and dance to some music even if it’s all by yourself. Feel the freedom of movement even if it’s spastic. Notice the feeling of your body shifting through the energy of life with every movement. Touch a branch of leaves as you pass them, literally stop and smell the roses. When we stop and notice the little things along the way while moving through life the world begins to actually be magical. The magic is already here — maybe you’re just in the realm of the past or the portal of the future and haven’t noticed yet.
The Practice of Food
This one not only clears your mind, but can also create a healthier lifestyle for you in general. There are two facets to the practice of food — preparation and nourishment. Incorporating a whole foods based diet into your life will make it easier to practice mindfulness during food preparation. When you are cutting fresh vegetables and making your own sauces you have to be in the moment. Stay present with every cut of the knife and stir of the spoon. Sink-in to every shake of seasoning. Your food might even turn out better than usual.
Mindfulness while nourishing the body will ensure you’re not over indulging in a meal. This is also where the practice of conversation should come into play. Again, turn your TV off and put your phone away for your meal. Turn on some music to complement your meal and act as a conversation starter. Pay attention to every bite. Give gratitude not only for each nourishing morsel, but for the moment you’re experiencing with someone else. If you’re alone give gratitude for the moment you’re experiencing with the music.
The Practice of Breath
Your breath is the key to placing you in the moment. Generally we go about our day paying little attention to the natural gift of breath, but it actually has the ability to turn any and every moment of life into a mindful experience. Taking a deep breath is the very act of knowing you are here — telling yourself to take a deep breath is the very act of telling yourself to live. When you’re trying to stay mindful in any activity but the hamster has climbed inside your mind’s wheel, tell yourself to take a deep breath. Feel every molecule of that air pulsing through your body to electrically give you life before she leaves your body taking toxicity of all forms with her.
Mindfulness is the key to many things — health, gratitude, quality of life, and experiencing a little magic. Many people get caught up in mixing mindfulness with meditation. If this is what’s stopping you from living mindfully I’m hear to tell you it’s way bigger than meditating. Getting out of the past and escaping the premature future has been the number one thing that finally gave me the freedom was I so desperately seeking in life. Yes it’s ridiculously cliche, but all you really have is right now.