If you’re curious about mindfulness but feel like you already have too much to do, relax. You can experience it without adding anything to your day.
There are some things you can do differently to gain some of mindfulness’ benefits. Try one of the suggestions below each week. Experiment and see which ones work best for you.
- Take a single breath in and out before you speak. This is especially useful in heated situations. (Doing so may seem like it takes a long time to you, but others usually won’t even notice, and it will calm and focus you.)
- Minimize multitasking. Do just one task at a time whenever possible.
- If and when you drive, turn off the radio, and don’t take any calls. Just pay attention to the sights and sounds of driving.
- Slow down. When you realize you’re rushing, take a moment to reflect whether what you’re doing is what you need to be doing. If not, stop doing it. If it is, do it with a full awareness of what you’re doing rather than letting your mind wander to the next task.
- Use routine activities – drinking coffee, hearing a phone ring, going to the bathroom – to check in with yourself. What do you sense in your body? What are your thoughts? What emotions do you notice, if any?
- Before you eat, take a moment to be grateful for all the people involved in producing and transporting the ingredients that went into your food.
- When you eat, focus on the taste of each bite. Try not to reach for your phone or computer, or to think about what you need to do before your next meeting.
- When you read something, make sure your inner voice is silent. Sometimes, our eyes look at the words, but our minds chatter about something completely unrelated. Imagine the inner voice is reading the words in your head to help you focus.
- Listen deeply. When someone is speaking to you, make sure your inner voice is not preparing what you’re going to say next and your mind is not trying to predict what the person is going to say. Instead, focus on receiving each word and waiting till the person is done speaking before considering what they’ve said.
- If and when you walk somewhere, concentrate on the physical sensation of walking. When your mind starts to slip away, bring it back to the sensation of each step – the interplay of hundreds of muscles and the moment-to-moment balance required to stay upright.
Print this off and highlight each suggestion as you try it for a week. Once you’ve finished trying all ten, pick your favorite 3 and keep doing them. That way, you can benefit without adding anything to your schedule.