When someone tells me he is too busy to meditate, I know he is just the person that needs it most. The busier you are, the more you need to take time for a bit of mindfulness. I’m sure you have felt the energy drain of a day when there is too much to do. Instead of grabbing another cup of coffee or some sugar to give you an energy boost, try a little mindfulness. Just like you plug in your cellphone every night, plugging into the present can be a great re-charge for your body and mind.
Mindfulness is about dropping in on all of our senses in the ever changing moment we call “now” with kindness and curiosity. It just takes a few minutes throughout the day to make a huge difference in how you feel, how you respond to the stress in your life, and how much energy you have for all of the things you want to do.
- Do a three minute breathing space. This short exercise is one of the favorites from my classes. Developed by Mark Williams, Zindel Segal, and John Teasdale for their mindfulness-based intervention for depression, it is a perfect way for dropping out of automatic pilot and dropping into your thoughts, feelings, and body sensations.
- Take a mindful walk. For three minutes, get up and simply walk. Don’t think about your worries, your projects, and your to-do list. Be aware of your body moving, placing your feet on the ground, the movement of your legs, the air against your skin, the muscles that are involved in moving you forward. Every time your mind wanders, bring your attention back to simply walking. Come back refreshed and more energized.
- Do a short seeing exercise. For a couple of minutes, stand at a window and gaze outside. Take in the sky, the clouds, the sun, the rain, the trees, the flowers, the birds, the cars, the buildings, etc. Scan the environment and just notice the colors, the shapes, and the sizes. Be aware of the world around you. Breathing gently in and out and bringing your curious awareness back to your surroundings. See what you discover.
- When you are in a conversation with someone, let the other person be your object of mindfulness. When your mind wanders from what the other person is saying, come back to the words that they are speaking. When the person is finished talking, repeat back to the person what you heard them say so that you know you have understood them. Notice how you get distracted and keep bringing yourself back to the person in front of you.
- Break out of your routine. Nothing gets our attention more than novelty. The problem is we fall into routine patterns and habits that lull us to sleep. In the morning, eat something different for breakfast. Drive or commute a different way to work. Meet someone new for lunch. Take in a new activity – a new museum, store, sport, hiking trail, lecture, or a new restaurant. Make your life a little spicier and notice how it brings you more fully into the moment.
While it is recommended that you engage in longer periods of time for sitting meditation or yoga, there are great benefits to be found in little mini mindfulness moments throughout your day. In fact, mindfulness throughout the day is the final goal anyway. You can bring your mindfulness to any activity and make it a meditation.
By coming back to the moment over and over again, no matter what you’re doing, you will improve your ability to take care of your busy day with more ease. You will have more attention and focus so you get things done faster. You will be utilizing the decision-making, creative parts of your brain so your performance will improve. And you will be calmer which makes you feel good and enhances the quality of the relationships you have with others.
Turn your busy day into a mindful day.