How often have you raced through your day thinking:
‘I just need to tick off this huge to-do list and then finally when I do yoga tonight, I’ll have time to be mindful’?
Mindfulness shouldn’t be reserved for the times that you’ve marked for wellbeing – it should be a state of being, a way in which you move through your whole day.
At first, it may feel hard to be present and even a little unnatural but once you start actively cultivating this practice you’ll notice a difference.
Here are some of my suggestions for helping turn your auto-pilot off and start feeling more present.
1. Pick flowers
Research shows that workplaces with plants are more productive, restaurants with flowers have happier customers and hospital patients who receive flowers need less pain relief.
Stopping to smell the roses is a cliché for a reason. Why not keep a pair of mini secateurs in your bag to snip flowers when you see them.
“Flowers help us remain in the moment, they’re to be enjoyed right then and there, it makes us slow down, look, admire, smell, comment, it engages all our senses with its beauty.” – Kym Little, Wild Botanica
2. Create a daily ritual
Sometimes it can feel like our days are dictated by demands outside our control. Creating a daily ritual allows you to do something special, just for you.
What is one thing that will feed your soul? It could be going for a walk, reading a few pages of a book or enjoying a cup of tea in silence.
Whatever it is, make it a non-negotiable part of your routine. Do it in the morning before anything else can take your time.
3. Change up your commute
How many times have you gotten in the car and you can’t remember how you got to your destination? Changing your route or choosing a different mode of transport will prompt you to notice new surroundings.
If you walk instead of drive, you’ll be able to notice the breeze on your skin, the people you pass and the feel of the ground beneath your feet.
If you take a different route than normal, you’ll notice the new scenery, the way the area makes you feel and your brain will switch on as it navigates you home.
4. Eat from a handmade bowl
Compare the experience of eating a pumpkin soup that you’ve chopped, roasted and stirred for a few hours, to simply opening a tin. You savour the experience, tasting the spices, feeling the warmth and appreciating the way the food nourishes you.
It’s the same with using a handmade object. The feel of an irregular, organic material is more grounding than that of a similar object made by a machine.
A handmade object brings joy and mindfulness to every day moments. The feel of the curves of a handmade bowl brings you into the present and connects us with our food, an experience we can often miss out on.
Breathing is something we take for granted but it has an immense power to calm us and bring us into the present.
Taking a few deep breaths is especially helpful when we’re feeling stressed or anxious and can switch us out of being in fight or flight mode.
Close your eyes and take a deep slow breath in …. and exhale.
Breathe in again and this time when you exhale, make it twice as long as the in breath.
Count 1 … 2… for the inhale and then 1 … 2… 3… 4… for the exhale.
Extending the exhale will awaken your parasympathetic nervous system and result in a deeper feeling of relaxation. It helps to place your hand on your stomach and feel the rise and fall as you breathe.