I’m sure you’ve heard of ‘mindfulness’ before. From mental health experts to professional athletes, it’s being touted as the next big revolution in psychology.
The truth is that mindfulness has been around for centuries in the Eastern world, it’s just that the Western world is slow to catch on.
But don’t worry, it’s not very complex. The main crux of it involves focusing your attention on the present moment with a non-judgmental and compassionate attitude.
It can be a remarkable technique to help you cope with difficult situations in life.
To practice mindfulness, here are 7 habits. They may seem difficult at first, but if you keep at it, they’ll benefit you for a lifetime.
1. Practice Gratitude
Being grateful for the blessings we receive can be one of the most important habits you can develop, hands down. It reminds us to enjoy what we have, rather than desiring what we don’t.
To practice gratitude, immediately write down 3 things you are grateful for when you wake up. Be as specific as possible—specificity is key to fostering gratitude. All it takes is 15 minutes.
The goal of the exercise is to remember a good event, experience, person, or thing in your life—then enjoy the good emotions that come with it.
2. Feel your feet and palms
This is a technique that will anchor yourself to the present moment. Draw your attention to your feet and palms. Notice the pressure of your feet against the floor or bed, the temperature, comfort or discomfort, itches, or anything else.
Once you’ve simply become aware of your feet and palms, then clench your hands into tight fists and release. Clench. Release. Clench. Release. This allows you to focus on your body, which will put you in the present moment.
Expect your mind to wander, and when it does, return your attention to your feet without judging yourself or giving yourself a hard time.
3. Notice the environment
With mindfulness, you don’t have to manipulate your feelings and emotions to stay in the present moment; just simply notice what’s around you. Allow your mind to let go and just notice all the wonderful objects, sites, and sounds around you.
As you’re reading this article, perhaps your hand is touching the mouse, feel this sensation. Notice the objects around you, such as any objects on your table. Expand your awareness to the environment you are in, for instance notice the size of your surroundings, whether it’s a small room or if you can see the enormity of the sky outside.
Notice the colors of your environment. Become aware of any sounds happening around you. Without thinking or mentally commenting on what you notice, just take a moment to become aware of these things.
4. Breathe Deeply
Most meditation techniques revolve around breathing and for good reason: It’s a great way to relax and center yourself.
To begin practising, inhale for 3 seconds and exhale for 3 seconds. As you get more practice, you can increase the amount of seconds, which will make you feel even more centered and relaxed.
5. Listen, don’t just hear
Next time you’re in a conversation, try to notice when you judge the person you’re speaking with. Then once you notice, you can attempt to avoid the judgments and focus on the content of what they’re saying.
Judgments cause us to be bias and not really listen to what others have to say.
6. Watch what you eat
Mindful eating involves paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking, both inside and outside the body. We pay attention to the colors, smells, textures, flavors, temperatures, and even the sounds (crunch!) of our food. We pay attention to the experience of the body.
Literally feel your body and your senses as you eat. Not only will you enjoy your food more, you’ll begin to realize what food your body thrives on, and what food to avoid.
7. The Mindful Shower
The shower is the perfect time to practice mindfulness. Simply watch the beautiful water hit your skin and embrace the wonder and glory of it all!
Next time you have a shower, become aware of how good the warm water feels as it washes over your skin. Be mindful of the smell of the shower gel, and the sensation of your hands passing over your skin.