Always look at the date on your phone and think, “Wait. Where did the month go? “Perhaps you find yourself in a room occasionally forgetting why you are there, or you might leave a conversation without remembering what the other person said. The fact is, the better we can multitask, the worse we are in mindfulness. We’ve figured out how to maximize productivity, but often at the expense of feeling like we’re present in the moments of our everyday life. The more robust our to-do lists get, the less likely we are to stop and smell the proverbial roses .
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Mindfulness takes effort and practice, but it is possible to live in the moment even after you get used to plowing all day. Try these simple tips.
Carve time for silence
Just three minutes of meditation can increase mindfulness. And don’t let the word “meditation” put you off – you don’t need a special room, fancy pillow, or past experience to begin an exercise. Find a comfortable seat on the floor or in a chair, close your eyes, and focus on slowing the breathing pattern. Do you need a little help? Download an app that offers guided mediation. Both Ananda and Calm have free options.
Uni-Task whenever possible
Our lives are full of seemingly everyday tasks: washing dishes, organizing receipts, raking leaves. Turning on the TV or listening to a podcast is a great way to pass the time. Focusing fully on one of these simple tasks can be a great mindfulness exercise. Try to find the meditative quality in a repetitive movement and notice the accompanying sounds and sensations.
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Take a card
An inspirational card game can be a great tool for mindfulness, especially for more tactile people. There aren’t any set rules for using a deck of cards, but most people shuffle the deck of cards, pick a card at random, and spend a few moments thinking about the words or images on that card. Decks of cards from authors Kris Carr and Marie Forleo are popular options.
As we learned in our reading from Judy Blume days, keeping a journal can be remarkably cathartic. Taking the time to organize and write down your thoughts – including past regrets and worries about the future – can clear your mind and be present.
Get a Guru
Mindfulness is not about isolation. Find someone who values presence and attention and spend more time with them. Your “guru” can be a friend, family member, or even a health and fitness professional whom you follow on social media. Watch them show and learn from mindfulness.
It sounds simple, but listening is a skill that can be difficult to master. Since you need to be fully present to actively listen to another person, use your next conversation to practice mindfulness. Don’t entertain distractions like your phone, computer screen, or outside noise. Maintain eye contact with the person speaking and resist the urge to think about what you are going to say next. Do your best not only to hear each word, but also pay attention to the speaker’s facial expression and body language.
Pat a dog
Ever watch a cat spread in the sunspot or a dog gnaw on a chew toy? Do you think they are concerned with anything other than the sheer joy of the present moment? Let your furry friends be your teachers! Find mindfulness by giving your pets your full attention for at least a few minutes a day.
Create no-phone zones
You knew this was coming, didn’t you? Your device is a distraction and not just behind the wheel or in meetings. If you keep checking emails, updating your status, and taking photos, it means that your real life is not getting 100% of your attention. Pick your sacred times and places – dinner with friends, two hours before bed, your morning run – and proactively put your phone away so you can truly relive those moments.