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 focusing on my breath 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. These meditations can usually be done sitting or lying down. However, if you’re going to lie down, make sure you have time for a nap because you may fall asleep.
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 topic – from positivity to procrastination and everything in between. I also love the app 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 you select up to five emotions you are currently feeling. Once you’ve checked in, the app will recommend a few meditation recordings that fit your physical, mental and emotional state.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one of my favorite meditation resources: Yoga with Adriene. She has a playlist of guided meditations on her YouTube channel, which I find so helpful when I just need to relax and reconnect to my best, truest self.
My second mindfulness habit deals with the body. Many people live completely disconnected from their bodies; and when they do connect, it’s usually to punish their body for not measuring up. But our bodies are gifts. They carry us through this thing we call life. They are precious and sacred, and hold our deepest secrets, memories and dreams.
So how do I stay connected to the gift that is my body and treat it with the appreciation it deserves? I engage in intuitive eating and intuitive movement. Meaning, I never eat or move my body in a punishing way. I’ve written an entire blog post about intuitive eating, so I won’t go into that here. But I will take a minute to talk about intuitive movement because I believe it’s a powerful way to connect with your body.
To be clear: I DON’T “exercise” to burn calories or change my body. I DON’T “exercise” for any specific length of time or to meet some sort of external goal. I DON’T even use the word “exercise” anymore, if I can help it. I only “exercise” when I truly want to and only in ways that feel good to me personally.
Rather than engaging in externally regulated movement, I listen to my body and act on what it is telling me. And if it tells me to rest and do nothing, well, that’s a valid answer, too. Moving my body is always about connection, respect, and feeling more energized. That’s why I love taking walks, doing yoga, dancing, and occasionally running.
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!