You don’t need to add anything to your already busy schedule to experience the benefits of mindfulness. Instead, simply choose to approach the activities you’re already doing in a more mindful way.
Here are seven ways to take mindful breaks throughout your day.
Close your eyes for a few moments and pay attention to your breathing. Is it deep and calm? Are you holding your breath? Is your breath pattern rhythmical or irregular? At first, just pay attention without changing anything. Then, try slowing down and deepening your breaths. Notice how your body is responding.
2) Take a mindful walk
Even if you’re only taking a short walk to the car or to the bus stop, you can use this time to pay attention to your body and your surroundings. Notice the muscles you use to lift your foot off the ground and the pressure of the footpath as you put it back down again. Feel the temperature of the air. Look around and see the shapes and the colours around you.
3) Drink a glass of water
Feel the weight of the glass in your hand. Marvel at the water moving gently. Feel the touch of the glass against your lips. Taste the water, feel it going through your body, revitalising it and cleansing it.
4) Take a body scan
Run your mental eyes through your body. Do you feel full of energy? Or do you notice any fatigue and tension? Where in your body do you feel it? Breath into that body part. Stretch or adjust your posture in a way that will make your body feel more comfortable.
5) Have a mindful conversation
Imagine that the person you’re talking to, whether on the phone or face to face, is the most important person in the world in this moment. Listen to what they have to say. Notice their choice of words, the tone of their voice, their body language, if they’re in front of you. Refrain from having an internal conversation at the same time; simply listen. When it’s your turn to speak, acknowledge what you’ve heard and respond thoughtfully.
6) Resist the urge to pick up your phone
In your day, you will inevitably come across moments when you have to wait. Do you automatically take out your phone to keep yourself entertained? Next time you feel the urge to check Facebook or your email, take notice and delay responding to that urge for a few moments. Notice how you feel. Impatient? Bored? Where is that feeling in your body?
7) Stretch your happy moments
Our brains are wired to look out for danger and anticipate negative events. In the past, this negativity bias has helped us survive as a species. Today, we rarely face real danger, yet, we still focus on the negative, thus increasing our high stress levels and unhappiness. Balance this by consciously choosing to acknowledge everything positive that happens to you, no matter how small. Notice what it feels like in your body to appreciate a child’s smile or the beautiful night sky. Stay with that feeling for as long as you can.
These mindful breaks will help you be productive, focused and energised. Need a longer break and more ideas on how to include mindfulness into your life? Come to one of our yoga and mindfulness retreats in the beautiful Blue Mountains.
Tatiana is a freelance writer and a mum of three living in Sydney. After a 10-years’ break, she has just returned to full-time work. She is still finding time for yoga, meditation and mindfulness, which is making a huge difference to her sanity and her enjoyment of life.