We live like machines these days.
Our culture celebrates productivity and #hustletillyoudie.
We don’t take breaks.
Even when we schedule time to travel, have a massage or even just spend an afternoon in the nature, we might still find it hard to enjoy the moment.
It’s getting harder to align our body and mind these days.
In fact, I’m not immune to this phenomenon, and I do try my best to incorporate more mindfulness in my routines.
Hence I write this article to show you the mindfulness practices I personally find helpful. I have also included practices I use with my clients in my music therapy work for your reference. It’s all about expanding our toolkits so that we can navigate uncertainties in life with more grace. 😉
First thing first: stop complicating mindfulness.
I have a one-liner definition of mindfulness which might help you rethink the whole concept and practise it with ease:
All we need is a moment for ourselves to align our body and mind.
Think consciousness, awareness and jumping off auto-pilot mode.
Stop Time Travelling ⏳
Think about the last time you felt uneasy, stressed, anxious or overwhelmed.
In most cases, we were physically in one place but our mind was time travelling.
Worrying about the weekend extended family gathering at work on a Wednesday.
Replaying a conversation that went wrong last month in our head.
Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of projects coming up next month.
You know what Lao Tzu said famously:
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
Time travel (in our mind, not Avengers style) is an incredible ability to have as human beings, however it might not be always helpful when it comes to our emotional health.
We don’t own the past nor the future. All we have is now.
So when we break our habit of time travelling, we can be more okay with ourselves and take things one step at a time.
Peace is underrated these days.
And only when we focus on the present moment that we can find peace, physically and mentally.
Mindfulness Activities 🧩
By now I hope you are convinced to give mindfulness practice a go. Here’s a list of activities I personally and professionally recommend.
1/ 1-minute Unplug 🔌
Turn off some sensory inputs for a moment.
Close your eyes, or use noise-cancelling headphones if it helps.
We immediately feel less overwhelmed when we turn some noises off.
Stop reacting to the world, and start tuning into ourselves.
I don’t even try to focus on my breathing sometimes. It’s literally unplugging from the reality and creating a blank space for my mind.
I sometimes do that in the car in the middle of a particularly stressful day. It’s like pressing “reset” button to check out momentarily. I also find it helpful to remind myself that I am okay, and I have evidence in the past that I am strong enough to get through this.
The best part of it?
No tools are required. All you need is to find a safe and potentially quiet place for yourself, even just for 1 minute.
And I guarantee you that this is much nicer than scrolling through social media and getting reactive #triggers. Read this section again about turning off sensory inputs.
2/ 5-4-3-2-1 Technique 👀
I tried this first hand in my own therapy session when I was emotionally unstable (read: crying so hard that I hyperventilated).
Basically, you want to turn off the reaction part of your brain by focusing on your surroundings:
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can physically feel
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
This immediately shifts your focus from feeling stressed or anxious to your physical environment, which helps create distance bewteen you and the situation you’re in.
3/ Mind-muscle Connection 💪🏻
Tune into your body sensations when you move. It not only helps you feel more present and grounded, but you also improve performance by being aware of the exacy muscle groups you are using. It’s particularly important when it comes to training.
Not gonna lie, sometimes I go onto auto-pilot mode during my workouts but in order to get the most out of it, aligning body and mind is crucial.
Try this next time you go for a walk. 🙂
4/ Using Mindfulness Apps and Reminders 📱
Want to use technology to help build mindfulness habit?
My biggest hack is setting a daily reminder on my iPhone to breathe and unplug at 5.30pm.
0 cost. The most effective way to pause whatever you’re doing and take action.
Using mindfulness apps can also be a great way to build the habit of staying present – especially if you’re always on your phone. There are many apps available that offer guided meditations, daily reminders, and other features to help you incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine. Start by finding an app that resonates with you and commit to using it each day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. With consistency and patience, you can build a strong mindfulness practice that will benefit your overall well-being.
5/ Gratitude Practice 😇
When you feel grateful, there is no space for worries.
Expressing gratitude is a powerful mindfulness practice that can have significant benefits for mental and physical health. Research has shown that practising gratitude can increase positive emotions, improve sleep, and even boost the immune system. It can also help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. By taking just a few moments each day to focus on the things we are grateful for, we can cultivate a more positive outlook on life and improve our overall well-being.
I have random moments during the day when I feel immensely grateful about something or someone.
It feels so good – like fuel to my body and mind, really.
- my morning coffee ritual
- my friend who shows up for our 6.30am boxing class together
- ability to help people on a daily basis
Pro tip: it is a particularly powerful mindset shift if we name 3 things we are grateful at the beginning of the day. 😇
Noticed how I didn’t mention “meditation” at all? As I said in the beginning, it’s all about aligning our body and mind.
Remember, incorporating mindfulness practices into your daily routine doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. We don’t have to sit cross-legged and spend an hour to recite some mantra.
By taking just a few minutes each day to focus on the present moment, you can help reduce stress and improve your overall well-being.
Incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine can be challenging to start with, but it’s worth it. By taking small steps each day, you can improve your mental and physical health, and feel more connected to yourself and the world around you.
If you’re looking for more tips on how to incorporate mindfulness into your busy life, sign up for the DO-RE-MI newsletter in which I send you actionable tips on DOable ideas, REflection prompts and MIndfulness to improve your well-being. 👇🏻