The following suggestions help us to be present in this moment. Rather than remaining on automatic pilot as we move through our day, caught up in mental chatter, we can choose to bring our attention to what it is that we are doing. Through these informal mindfulness practices we reduce the impact of stressful situations and increase our capacity to respond rather than react to external events.
Making transitions consciously
- On waking up: spend a couple of minutes observing how you are in this moment – body, thoughts, and emotions. (Try the same at the other end of the day too.)
- Standing up from your desk: keep your attention in the body. How does it feel to move from the sitting position to the standing position? As you walk to wherever you are going – keep your attention close in to your body – feet and legs.
- Getting into the car: feel your hand on the door handle, the movement of your body getting into the seat, your hands on the wheel… Stop and connect with your breath before turning on the ignition.
- On arriving home: before getting out of the car (or off the bicycle!) take some moments to orient yourself to being with your family members/entering your home.
Pausing (and grounding yourself in the present moment)
- When the phone rings: before answering the phone, deliberately bring your attention to the sound and be present for the person who is calling.
- When someone asks you a question: listen for their feelings and needs.
- At the traffic lights: pay attention to your breathing, the sky, the other people on the road, the quality of your mind.
- Pause from work every hour: spend a few minutes allowing your attention to rest on the breath.
- Stop and tune in to the soundscape: listen to the sounds close-by, listen to the distant noises.
Being present whilst doing daily activities
- Brushing teeth: connect with this rich sensory experience – the smell of the toothpaste as you take off the cap; the taste of the toothpaste in your mouth; the sensation of bristles on your gums …
- Driving the car: turn off the radio and be present to everything that is going on around you – mental commentary unnecessary.
- Eat one meal mindfully each week: take the opportunity to eat alone and without engaging in any other activity. Smell, taste and experience the food fully.
The suggestions above are examples. Each moment is an opportunity for developing greater mindfulness and being present to what is going on. You don’t need to wait for any particular situation before you begin. You could start right now… feeling the sensations in the body, noticing the thoughts that may have been triggered by the suggestions above. What is going on for you in this moment? … knowing your present experience as elementally as possible without needing to engage in analysis, judgement or mental talk.