I have a jumpy brain. It’s here, there and everywhere. All day. Everyday. Which is why I have a constant craving for mindfulness. I crave the ability to be present in my mind, my body and my daily life. I long for greater awareness of my thoughts, feelings and actions. To be honest, I’m not even looking for mastery over my mind, just a little peace and quiet.
Fortunately, I’ve developed some habits to reduce these brain-cravings and actually experience the peace and quiet of mindfulness. My habits aren’t necessarily easy, but the benefits are definitely worth the extra effort. In fact, through these habits I’ve experienced decreased anxiety and stress, better sleep, more focused use of my time and energy, and increased confidence. Not to mention, I’ve experienced a greater sense that this moment matters.
Today, I’m going to share with you the three mindfulness habits that have been the most helpful to me, but I also encourage you to research and experiment with other ideas on your own. We are all unique, which means our personal growth journeys will also be unique. If you try a few of my ideas and they don’t work for you, don’t beat yourself up. You’ll eventually find your own way if you simply start practicing and paying attention…which is what mindfulness is all about anyway!
The most obvious place to start when talking about mindfulness is with the mind, and it will probably come as no surprise to you that meditation has been a huge help for me in this area. Now, if your brain is anything like mine, meditation in the traditional sense may be really hard for you. So in this section I want to share with you a few ways I make it work.
First, I don’t overcomplicate the process. I don’t always sit in a quiet room with my legs crossed breathing in the sweet smells of incense. However, if this is how you’ve learned to meditate, please know I do not judge. I actually think that’s pretty awesome! But for me to make it work, I have to keep it simple. Just a few minutes of siting or lying down with my eyes closed while counting my breaths or repeating specific phrases is enough to leave me feeling centered.
Second, I often use guided meditations, which I’ve mentioned several times before on the blog simply because I never cease to be amazed at how well they work. If you are not familiar, a guided meditation is a recording that helps focus your mind and calm your body. I only recommend you utilize these when you are going to bed or have time for a nap because, very often, I fall asleep before the recording is even finished.
I personally love Andrew Johnson’s guided meditation apps because they are generally customizable (length, repetition, etc.) and each one focuses on a different personal growth issue – from losing weight to stopping procrastination and everything in between. I also love Stop, Breath & Think. Each time you open the app it asks you to check in with yourself. You rate how you’re feeling physically and mentally, then select up to five emotions you are currently feeling. Once you’ve checked in with yourself, the app will recommend a few meditation recordings that fit your physical, mental and emotional state.
My second mindfulness habit deals with the body. Many people live completely disconnected from their bodies – you know, those very important skin sacs of blood and bones that allow us to exist on this planet. It amazes me and simultaneously makes complete sense that we ignore our physical bodies as much as we do. After all, our bodies can be sources of great physical and emotional pain, while at the same time being incredible gifts.
So how do I stay connected to this gift? And not just stay connected, but learn to appreciate it? Quite simply, I exercise. That may not have been the answer you were hoping for, but I believe there is no better way to connect with your body than to move it intentionally and for its own benefit. Remember, I never said mindfulness would be easy, but I did promise it would be worth it.
Do I have a well-honed exercise routine? No. Do I exercise everyday? Nope. Do I have a perfectly chiseled body? Absolutely not! What I do have is increased energy, more confidence and less stress. Honestly, I exercise for about thirty minutes four to five days per week. While I do prefer exercises that form a deeper mind-body connection, like yoga or running, I also frequently use ellipticals or video workouts to switch things up.
For me, the key to a good exercise routine is to ditch the routine altogether. I much prefer to move my body in the way that it longs to be moved in any given moment. If it longs to sweat, I sweat it out. If it longs to be stretched, I stretch it out. If it longs to run, I run it out. If it longs to just be, I let it be.
Lastly, let’s address technology – that inanimate thing that somehow won’t leave you alone. One thing I do to remain mindful with my technology is make things harder for myself. That sentence may make you want to run for the hills, but hear me out first.
Our tech culture is built around fast, instant and easy, which removes our need to be deliberate about anything. If you want to login to your favorite app, for example, you don’t actually have to login. Your phone has conveniently saved your username and password so that a simple tap of your finger opens the app without you having to put much thought into the process.
To combat this mindless use of technology, I’ve personally made a mindful decision to log out of certain apps after each use. I’ve also changed my settings to require me to enter my password every time I want to use the app again. This extra step has been especially helpful with social media.
Social media has a certain addictive quality to it, so naturally I found myself opening Instagram or Facebook out of habit and not because I actually wanted to be there. Now, when I open a social media app on my phone, I have to enter my password. This forces me to stop and think if scrolling social media is really the best use of my time in that moment. And if I’m being honest, it’s usually not.
Well, there you have it! My three favorite mindfulness habits are mediation, exercise and logging out of apps. These may not be revolutionary ideas, but they have certainly revolutionized my ability to be present and aware in my daily life. And who doesn’t want more of that?
I hope this post was helpful to you! If it was, be sure to share it with your friends and family. After all, no one can or should blossom alone!