10 Ways To Start Practicing Mindfulness
Last week I wrote a post on 4 Ways Mindfulness Can Improve Your Relationship With Your Body. Today I wanted to give you some concrete examples so I wrote 10 Ways To Start Practicing Mindfulness. You don’t have to do them all but I suggest starting with trying the ones you think you’ll be able to stick with and go from there. Just as different foods work for different people, different mindfulness practices will work for different people as well.
When we are not mindful it is hard to make decisions from a grounded place. It is easier to turn to food to numb or cope with emotions. When we work on becoming mindful we can choose nourishing foods that we know will make us feel great and support our energy. The following ideas are great ways to become more mindful and present in your life.
Our breath has a powerful affect over our nervous system and often when we are in a stressed state we are either holding our breath or taking shallow, quick breaths. This means we can also use our breath to take us out of the stress state and tap into our parasympathetic nervous system. Planning breath into your daily schedule can be a great way to keep you mindful throughout the day. I like to focus on 5 to 10 deep breaths before each meal. You can start by inhaling through the nose into the chest, ribcage and then stomach, hold for a second then slowly exhale though the nose from the stomach, ribcage and then chest. Also hold for a second after the exhale before starting the inhale again.
Journalling allows us to write out our thoughts and emotions that we might otherwise ignore. This makes us present to what we’re currently feeling, instead of subconsciously turning to food or other coping or numbing options. It’s important that we feel our emotions and if you don’t feel safe sharing with someone else, writing is a great option. We can also finish off with gratitude journalling to shift our focus to something we appreciate. Focusing on gratitude will shift our emotions and calm our nervous system.
There are so many ways to meditate and don’t have to look like the typical sitting in lotus pose on a cushion for an hour. There are apps with guided meditation like Brainwaves and Headspace. There are CD’s and classes you can take. You can start or end your day with meditation. My favourite thing to do is to light an incense or get my essential oil diffuser going, turn on my himalayan salt lamp so that it’s dim. I do sit on a pillow, crossed legged though because I’m not flexible enough for lotus pose, and I close my eyes and breath for 5 to 10 minutes. Sometimes I put on some light music in the background too.
I’ve talked about it before but yoga was the first place that I was able to become present in my body and get out of my head. During a good yoga class they will teach you how to use pranayama (control of breath) with the poses. The combination of moving through poses, holding poses and focusing on your breath to get deeper into a pose or move through the burn in your muscles during a longer hold, is something that can’t not make you present and mindful. A regular practice will also begin to flow into other areas of your life and you’ll notice how much more mindful you can become.
Walking In Nature or Other Mindful Movement like Tai Chi or Qigong
There is something about trees and mountains and water that take you out of your head and into your body. When I’m in nature I feel peaceful and calm. My heart feels happy. There are studies showing that nature can help people heal from various diseases and I absolutely believe it. Spending time outdoors gets us away from technology and allows us to become contemplative. If you don’t like walking by yourself get a dog! Tai Chi and Qigong are something I have not tried but are supposed to also be a great way to get into your body and become mindful.
I think it can really depend on the kind of music, but good music will make your body feel. Often it will make you want to dance or move your body and sometimes it tells a story and can make you feel emotions. I’m sure you’ve had a song make you cry before like I have. I’m starting to explore more music and one person I love right now is Heather Waxmen. I like turning her music on while I’m journalling or I use it to meditate to and she’s got some songs on Spotify you can check out for free. I also have a CD from Sparrow Grace, who is local to Edmonton and makes beautiful music.
I like doing this first thing in the morning before even getting up. It’s a great way of tuning into your body first thing and becoming mindful of how you’re feeling before jumping up and distracting yourself with something like social media. Yes, I’m guilty of grabbing my phone first thing too and am really working on taking time first thing in the morning for myself before anything else. With the Body Scan you start by bringing your focus to the top of your head, scan down through your eyebrows, eyes, cheeks and mouth. Continue down to chest, belly, pelvic area, though your legs and to your feet. Notice how each area feels and become mindful if your body is telling you something. Its great to end the Body Scan with a moment of gratitude for your beautiful body and what it can do for you.
Dance is another form of movement that I feel can get us out of our head and into our bodies. It allows us to become present of how our bodies are truly feeling and it feels good to move our bodies without worrying about what they look like. This is why the best place to start dancing, if you feel self conscious, is the comfort of your home. Turn on some good music and just feel into it, moving your body intuitively. This can shift your emotions and thoughts and I use it to bring me out of a funk!
Taking time to pour a bath with epsom salts and some beautiful essential oils, light some candles, grab a good book and soak is the ultimate form of self care for me. Many of these mindfulness tips are also forms of self care and many of the things we do mindlessly are the opposite of self care. The two go hand in hand. Taking time for ourselves is an important step to becoming mindful and often I know it’s easy to zone out in front of the T.V. instead, but really this is making you less mindful.
When in a conversation I know at times it can be so easy to not truly pay attention and also be thinking about something else, especially if what the other person is saying isn’t that interesting to us. Or we might be thinking about how to respond instead of trusting that we will know what to say. Taking the time to listen wholeheartedly to others is a great mindfulness practice and allows to build deeper relationships. People can tell when we are really present with them and they will remember it.
I hope these give you some ideas to start incorporating more mindfulness into your life! It really can be a life changing practice that shifts your relationship with food and your body. If you’re looking for more peace and freedom in your life, try mindfulness with these 10 Ways To Start Practicing Mindfulness.