It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of meditating to support my mindfulness practice.
But let’s be honest. It’s not always easy to carve out the time. Kids, heavy workloads, and travel demands often throw a wrench into our best intentions, even when we have established a regular meditation routine.
For others, the challenge lies in finding the right time of day to fit in a new meditation habit in the first place.
Instead of beating yourself up about it, accept the reality of your current situation (which will inevitably change), and look for other ways to clear your head a bit by grounding yourself in the present moment.
Here are a few strategies to try…
Five of My Favorite Non-meditation Mindfulness Practices:
- Bring your attention to the sound and feel of your breathing for a couple of minutes, counting your in-breaths and out-breaths in cycles of ten. (Stopping at ten then starting over makes it easier to stay focused.) The beauty of this exercise is that you can do it pretty much anywhere without anyone noticing.
- Turn your attention to the feel of something you’re touching. Our brains can only do one thing at a time, so if you find yourself frustrated by how slowly the line at the post office is moving, notice the sharpness or texture of the envelope or package you’re holding. With your brain busy experiencing the sensation of touch, it can’t bother you with negative chatter.
- Focus on the sensory experience of eating and drinking, bringing your attention to the flavor, consistency, temperature, and aroma of what’s on your plate or in your cup. For all the reasons noted in #2, taking in the smell of hot coffee (or tea, if you’re one of those people) before the mug even reaches your lips is an easy way to start the day off mindfully. And no matter how busy you are, my guess is you’ll always make room in your day for food.
- Go outside and take a picture of something beautiful in nature. You’ll feel more connected to the world around you, part of the greater scheme of things. The simple act of taking a picture forces instant presence, dissolving any niggling thoughts about the past or the future, where we can’t take action anyway.
- Practice gratitude. I have a friend whose mindfulness practice consists of a daily walk during which she focuses on what she has to be thankful for. We spend so much time consumed with what we’d like to be different in our lives. A couple of minutes paying attention to things we can be grateful for — electricity, having a roof over our head and food in the pantry, a blue sky (or even a cloudy sky) above — can put things in perspective and drown out thoughts that make us suffer.
What about you? What are some ways that you practice mindfulness without sitting down to meditate? Would love to hear about them in the comments!
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