Mindfulness is a lifelong practice, and for most of us, it requires conscious effort. We wake up in the mornings bleary-eyed and in need of caffeine rather than serene and at peace with ourselves and the world. It’s easy for us to go about our days telling ourselves that we don’t have time to meditate or do yoga, no spare minutes to practice gratitude in between commuting and working and hitting the gym and cooking dinner and taking care of kids and doing homework and buying groceries and doing every other one of those essential things that seem to eat up every moment of the day.
The truth is, we do have time, and we choose to fill that time with reading and Netflix and sports and bar-hopping and every other one of those non-essential things, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. This isn’t a “social media is the devil” post, because that subject is beyond played out and anyway that’s not how I feel (perhaps a topic for another post). What this is, is proof that even with the few spare moments you have in your life, you can practice mindfulness. Even if you only have 10 minutes, here are 10 ways to bring more awareness into your everyday.
Drink a glass of water
Let’s start with the absolute simplest thing you can do to be more mindful in your day-to-day. I believe that water is pretty much a cure-all. Not in a woo-woo way, but think about how healthy and hydrated you feel when you drink a nice cold (or room temperature, ya freaks) glass of water. It offers an instant pick-me-up when you’re feeling hungry or tired or just a little run-down, and has the mental benefit of bringing awareness to how you are feeling and what your body needs.
Take a walk
Like water, fresh air can do wonders for an instant mental and physical health improvement. Taking a walk to clear your head is an age-old tradition, and that’s because it works. If you enjoy meditation you can do that as part of your walk, but even if you just take a quick lap around the block to get away from your desk for a few minutes, take the time to notice your surroundings and use all of your senses to be aware of your environment.
If you’re into the idea of getting your body moving, there is, of course, yoga. You may think you need an hour or 90 minutes for a full yoga practice, but even in just ten minutes you can find physical and spiritual benefit to adding asana to your day. Surya Namaskar, or sun salutation, is a simple sequence that can be repeated as many times as you wish. Find out how to do it here and don’t forget to focus your breath as you move.
Make a gratitude list
Every day in my bullet journal, I write down one good thing that happened that day, or one thing for which I am grateful. It’s a quick and easy way to become aware of all the joys that life has to offer. Realising that, even on a bad day, I can find something good worth recording, is a nice reminder that there’s always something to be grateful for. can make this an everyday practice like I do, or just create a list every once in a while to remember positive memories.
Meditation minis podcast
Hypnotist Chel Hamilton hosts this podcast which features a super short (5-10 minute) guided meditation in each episode. The meditations don’t have a particular ideological slant, making them accessible for anyone, and they focus on topics ranging from energy to stress to harmony to sleep. I like to listen to one on my walk to work, but they’d also be perfect to turn on first thing in the morning or just before you go to bed.
Okay, I’ll be honest: I tried Headspace and it wasn’t for me. However, I know so many people who absolutely swear by it that I feel it’s worth including on this list. The app features soothing 10-minute meditations and simple visuals to keep you focused, and the design encourages you to make meditation a habit. I only ever used the free 10-day trials, but apparently the paid full app offers a variety of meditation programmes to help you in your journey.
One-card tarot spread
This is a habit I picked up recently when I bought the beautiful Wild Unknown tarot deck. Because I’m still working on learning the meaning of each card and their interpretations, I keep it simple. Each morning I concentrate on asking my subconscious what I need to focus on, and I pull a single card from the deck. Before I look up the meaning in the guidebook, I ask myself what feelings the image on the card inspires in me. It’s a good way to create a focus for my attention for the day.
One round of the mala
Apart from savasana at the end of a yoga practice, I’m not great at silent meditation. I need to at least be listening to something or, better yet, doing something. Japa meditation, repeating a mantra, is a good way to focus your thoughts, especially when you use a mala, a 108-bead strand of prayer beads on which you count each repetition of your chosen mantra. Your mantra can be anything you choose, from a religious utterance to a positive affirmation, to a Star Wars quote, anything that works for you.
Another form of mantra meditation, kirtan uses a call and response format which makes it ideal to do with others, but you can also find plenty of kirtan tracks online. You may be familiar with the main mantra of Bhakti yoga practitioners, better known as Hare Krishnas, but there are many other mantras as well. When I go to kirtan at Bhakti Lounge here in Wellington, it lasts for about an hour, but each mantra is chanted for 10-15 minutes so it would be easy to fit in a shorter session.
Do a body scan
If you do yoga, your teacher may guide you in a body scan during savasana. However, I find it a perfect thing to do when I am in bed getting ready to go to sleep. It is very simple; just lie still and take stock of each part of your body, from the crown of your head to the soles of your feet. Do this frequently to become aware of changes in your body and the way it feels. Breathe normally, but maintain awareness of your breath for a peaceful, soothing addition to your nighttime routine.
How do you make an effort to find awareness and practice mindfulness in your day? Let me know what works for you!