Mindful Living Practices

Mindful Living Practices

Sure, you’ve heard of mindfulness and why it should be part of your daily routine, but do you know how to actually put it into practice? Mindfulness, the ability to be fully present in a moment, has many proven benefits, from reducing depression and anxiety to improving sleep and reducing stress and chronic pain.

Mindfulness can help us achieve our goals, stay grounded in order to more effectively deal with challenges, and better our communication and interpersonal relationships. Practicing mindfulness is also practical—it’s inexpensive, and typically, the only “cost” is time and effort.

All around, mindfulness is a crucial practice for us to cultivate meaningful and happy lives… although sometimes it’s easier said than done!

For many of us, it’s not something that comes naturally. When I started practicing mindfulness, I had difficulty staying present due to the many distractions that would bring my attention elsewhere. So many of us (myself included) are addicted to our technology and have trouble focusing our attention for long periods of time. We can often get bombarded with notifications, text messages and emails, check our news feed constantly, and be overloaded with information in the news. It can feel like constant stimulation and pressure to always stay connected.

Do you ever stop to ask yourself, “with everything going on around me externally, how am I feeling internally?” The day can go by without us checking in with ourselves, which can cause us to feel unhappy, disconnected, and uncomfortable just being with ourselves.

Daily Mindfulness Practices

Here are some mindful living practices you can do daily to bring your attention back to what matters: 

  1. Hone into Your 5 Senses — Stop what you’re doing for a moment and take in what is going on around you. Give your full attention to observing what you feel through your five senses. What can you smell? What are others doing around you? What noises do you hear?
  2. Practice Gratitude — Bring your attention to what is positive in your life. Gratitude encourages us to appreciate things that bring us joy and puts that at the forefront of our mind.
  3. Focus on Your Breath — By bringing your attention to your breath, you can help your mind focus. Try focusing on your inhalations and exhalations as you take deep belly breaths.
  4. Body Scans — This is how I like to describe checking in with your body. The body functions without your participation, but when you check in with your body, what sensations do you notice? Do you have any aches and pains? Where are you holding on to tension? Do you feel heavy and stressed or light and relaxed?
  5. Mindful Eating — Try not to rush through eating your food or multitask while you eat. Instead, focus on what you’re eating and fully enjoying it. Bring your attention to the texture of the food, how it was prepared, and the various flavors in your mouth.
  6. Practice Active Listening — We often tune out when someone else is speaking and try to think of how we will respond. Try giving your full attention to the speaker—listening without judgment, avoiding interrupting, and using your ears and heart to hear the person. You might find that the quality of your conversations will improve!

It’s not easy in the beginning and there will be bumps along the way; however, practicing these activities will help you cultivate a sense of inner peace. Practicing mindfulness regularly, with intention, can help you improve your overall mental and physical health and stay focused on the present. Once you start to engage in mindful living, you increase your chances of deepening your life satisfaction and happiness.

Authored by: Ilana Sancha, LMSW