Mindfulness meditation can be practiced at any moment of our day. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s definition of mindfulness says, “Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, nonjudgmentally.”
No matter what time of day it is we can bring awareness to our body, thoughts, emotions and surroundings. By bringing our attention back to the present moment we are training our awareness to be in tune with our mental and physical state and our habitual ways of interacting with the world.
Here are 40 different ways you can bring mindful awareness to your daily activities. Try a few of them out each day, or pick one you really like and aim to do it everyday this week.
Mindful Awareness of Routine Activities
Practice bringing your mindful attention to daily activities we often perform mindlessly. Pay attention to the movement of the body, and the sights and sounds around you while:
- Brushing your teeth
- Taking a shower
- Drinking coffee
- Eating breakfast (or any meal)
- Getting out of bed
- Getting dressed
- Writing your to-do list
- Walking out your front door
- Waiting in line
- Turning on a light switch
- Turning on your computer
- Exercising or doing yoga
- Opening a book to read
- Sitting at a red light
- Getting into bed
Mindful Awareness and Technology
Electronic devices and technology often take us very far from the present moment. Here are some ways you can use technology as a mindfulness tool to bring yourself back to the present:
- Take a deep breath before checking email
- Set an alarm on your phone to go off at certain time of the day (such as during lunchtime) to remind yourself to check in with your breath
- Set your home screen on your phone to an image that will remind you to take a mindful pause before using it
- Set your email notification sound to a bell and let it be a reminder to bring you back to the present moment each time you hear it
- Once in a while, leave your phone or iPod at home when you go for a walk or run, and just pay attention to the natural world
Mindful Awareness for Parents
- Check on your sleeping kids before you go to bed. Take three deep breaths while watching their breathing
- Let the call of “Mom!” be a reminder for mindfulness!
- Make bedtime sacred. Focus your full awareness on the lullabies or the stories without worrying about all you need to do after they’re in bed
- When picking up the kids after school or work or activities, take a minute to breathe mindfully before shifting back to parent mode
Mindful Awareness of Cleaning
Cleaning and doing household chores are an easy, often overlooked way of honoring our environments and nurturing those we live with. As you clean, focus on the movements of the body, and the sounds and smells around you. Bring mindful awareness to the acts of:
- Washing dishes
- Folding laundry
Mindful Awareness of the Body
Learn how to “check in” with the sensations of your physical body throughout the day. Focus specifically with the parts of your body that are tense. Check in with:
- Your face. A lot of stress can live here! Check in with the jaw, the eyes and the forehead
- Your neck and shoulders. This is a common place where a lot of us carry stress
- Your posture. Sitting up straighter and letting the head rest comfortably on the spine can do wonders for our attention and our mood
- Your hands, especially if you’ve been working at a computer all day
- Your whole body. The UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center has a free, three minute body scan and other guided meditations here.
Mindful Awareness with Others
Practice bringing your mindful attention to your interactions with others:
- Focus on making eye contact with others and on really seeing them
- Practice mindful listening. Are you really listening, or is your mind wandering elsewhere?
- Practice gratitude with others. Every night, have everyone in the family share one thing they are thankful for
- When you feel stressed, sit up straight and take three deep breaths
- Take a few minutes (even if it’s just two!) out of the day to focus on the sensations of the breath. Pay attention to where do you feel the breath: in the abdomen, the lungs or the nose?
We Can Help
VITAL WorkLife counselors are available to assist you in finding efficient ways to build mindfulness into your daily life. We can direct you to online resources, classes available in your own community and can also offer simple strategies and techniques to have a more mindful approach to your work and personal life. Connect with us through your VITAL WorkLife App!
Additionally, download our article Mindfulness in Medicine: How Mindfulness Can Help Support Physician Well Being.