“Can I practice Mindfulness without having to meditate?” A client once asked me, “because I hate meditating.”
My answer? Heck yes.
Mindfulness and meditation are not one and the same. Meditation is a form of developing Mindfulness.
And just because I meditate doesn’t mean that you must take it up too. I do encourage people to try, but my own experience was one of trying and moving on, returning and dabbling, forgetting and flirting, (and to be honest it still is sometimes!) before really labelling it as “my jam”. So in the meantime, try other things too!
Mindfulness by definition is to observe without judgement.
- It is learning to acknowledge the rabbit hole without descending into it.
- It is an act of thanking a thought and sending it on it’s way, rather than jumping on it’s back and riding off into the horizon.
- It is not eliminating thought altogether. That my friends is impossible.
- It is not pausing a moment in time altogether, but slowing down to feel that moment in all it’s sensations, full present.
- It is not sitting in silence and stillness (though it can be!), but being aware of movement and melody.
Mindfulness lets us savour pleasure, decrease stress and burnout, decrease regret and worry over the past or future, and improve both physical and mental health. Actively creating a Mindful morning is a great way to set yourself up for a super effective day.
So here are 5 ways to practice the act of Mindfulness without the need for any meditation app or even closing your eyes. They may feel a bit weird, but I guarantee you’ll love the chance to slow-the-fuck-down.
Leave your phone at home, or on silent mode! Try to resist plugging in to Spotify too so that you can use all your sense as you walk. Listen to the wind in the trees, smell the oncoming rain, feel the crunch of gravel under your feet, see the small details in the shapes of clouds and variety of colours. Each time you find your mind wandering into “what’s for dinner?” or “I must call so-and-so”, call it back by finding something new in your field of vision that you hadn’t noticed before.
Extra tip: Walk a route you’ve never walked before to heighten your awareness. For more on how being outside can help you, read my 5-minute mindset hacks.
Again, remove the tools of multitasking. No eating and emailing. Tune in to mindful eating by taking a moment to actually look at your food before diving in. Utensils down, eyes on your plate. Look at the textures and colours in front you and smell their aromas. Take your time as you eat, taste and finish each mouthful before you prime the next for entry! What does it taste like? How does it make your body feel?
Extra tip: Take yourself out on a date. It’s not weird. You are not a loner. You are romancing a partner who really is there til death do you part! And I think they are pretty awesome!
By this I do not mean listening in conversations, that is a different skill. Rather I mean listen to the soundscape around you or to music. I am deeply moved by music so I find Mindful Music a powerful way to connect to the present and explore my own emotions and desires in the process. Yet simply starting with the sounds around you can be enough to begin. Take 5 minutes to stop what you’re doing and pinpoint sounds. Can you hear people walking in the apartment upstairs? The faint bubble of a boiling kettle? Birds chirping outside? The hum of an air conditioner? Once you think you’ve found all the noises, listen again. Discover something else? If you do choose to listen to music, seek out each instrument, chord change, variation, and addition. What do the layers in the song do to your body? Does your heart rate change? Do you smile or feel compelled to close your eyes?
Extra tip: If you are a beginner or suffer a form of anxiety, avoid doing this in busy places such a train stations in rush hour or a busy office, as the enhanced focus on sound can be overwhelming. Find somewhere quiet for there are always sounds to develop this skill.
Beware. This one can become a timewarp from which you emerge hours later than you expect! Creativity is incredibly beneficial to managing stress, increased problem solving skills, developing an understanding of imperfection, and regulating emotions. Set aside an hour to paint, draw, colour in, knit, decorate, bake, scrapbook, design, write, choreograph, whatever...just be fully present to the task. Take in colours and textures. FEEL the way the muscles in your hands must work to enable your creation. Observe mistakes and create through them. Relish the beauty and get messy.
Extra tip: Think you are not creative? Wrong. This is not about creating the masterpiece but about creating the pieces. Play. Try something new. Suspend your beliefs about what is “good” or “bad” and be Mindful instead of the process.
Hello autopilot. As a fitness instructor I see this all the time. Follow instructions, repeat the routine, mimic the movement. All the while thinking about how many reps are left, how hard it is, that you must lose that weight soon, why don’t you look like her/him, and all other slew of thoughts that take you out of the present moment and distanced from feeling the very body you are working so hard to move. Next time you work out, be present and actually feel into your bodies’ power. You will find pride and gratification in how amazing it is, and will likely get more out of your training as you pay more attention to what you’re doing.
Extra tip: In the gym always focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do as without mindfully celebrating what our bodies’ do we risk punishing and overworking them into spaces we are not yet equipped to go.
Which one of these Mindful activities are you going to try? Let me know below!