I don’t know about you, but when I used to think about meditating, I thought it was some sort of kooky thing that grey-haired, denim wearing, tree huggers did in an attempt to find their inner spirit or something. And frankly, it didn’t appeal to me at all. I had no interest in whatever it meant at all.
What I didn’t realize was that it was actually more of a practice of being in the moment and being mindful and it’s something I’ve been trying to do more and more of on a daily basis. As someone who struggles with a whole variety of anxieties on a daily basis, this has certainly helped.
The beauty of being mindful is that it really helps to lessen the stress of the “future” and helps train your brain to focus on the moment and actual reality. As anyone who struggles with anxiety knows, you can easily go from zero to hundred with your thoughts at any given moment and almost all of them are not based on actual things happening to you.
Here’s my top ways to meditate and be mindful:
- Enjoying a hot cup of tea
I love to start each morning off with a hot drink of tea, or other warm/soothing beverage. I love to close my eyes, take a sip, let the tea fill my mouth, feel the warmth over my tongue, taste the flavors, and finally swallow. It takes maybe less than a minute to do all that but really brings you into the present and it’s very soothing.
- Listening to music
I love 80’s music but when I want to practice being mindful I will often switch to an instrumental jazz or classical where I can really tune into the music and try to listen to each instrument as it’s playing. Doing this gives me no choice but to be present as I listen intently to each note.
- Breathing with a 4-4-8 purpose
This was actually taught to me by an anxiety specialist and I love doing this. Gaining control of your breathing can really mean a difference between feeling overwhelmed and feeling under control and relaxed. Try breathing in for a count of 4, holding it for a count of 4, and then exhaling slowly for a count of 8. By the time you do this the first or second time, you can already feel yourself relax.
- Commuting to work
A commute to work is something many of us have to face every day, and my day is no different. I have a mere 40 minute commute, which can be long or short depending on where you live, but I actually really enjoy the commute. I love that those 40 minutes are pure solitude in which no one is asking me to do things. That means that I can enjoy all of the quiet bliss that comes with a drive to work. I will turn the radio off and just be present in the moment.
- Whipping up something in the kitchen
I love to cook, and I get really excited about trying new recipes – many thanks to Pinterest. So the art of actually cooking something involves many senses from the chopping of ingredients to the smell of the spices to the tasting the finished product. It’s all good for being in the moment and savoring the whole process.
- Enjoying good food
A few years ago at a work session, we had a guest speaker talk about eating with mindfulness. She gave everyone a piece of chocolate and we started by being mindful of the whole process. We heard the crunch of the wrapper as we opened it, the velvet feel of the chocolate as we held it between two fingers, the gorgeous aroma of it, then we put it in our mouths and allowed it to melt, savoring the intense taste and soft texture. It brought a whole new meaning to eating. Not every day will allow me to eat this way, as many times I am on the go and don’t have time. But at times when I eat mindfully, I enjoy food in a whole new way.
- Being creative
There’s a reason there are coloring books for adults, it’s a great way to relax and be creative. While I haven’t colored in many years, it’s something I could definitely get into. For me, I can delve into being creative with my digital products or photography that I sell in my shops. I love the freedom and even the focus that being creative can bring.
- Writing things down in a journal
Whenever my mind gets jumbled up, a co-worker recommended taking out a piece of paper and writing it down whether it be a journal or just a scrap of paper. Write down all your thoughts/fears/worries about what is bothering you and when you are done, either keep it for a reference, or rip it up into little pieces. Allowing yourself the time to write it all down helps empty it from your mind. You’ll feel a sense of having dealt with it in some ways and also being mindful as you write out each detail. Focus on the process itself… the sound of the paper under the pen, the feel of the pen as it writes, the way the ink goes onto the page.
- Go for a walk
There’s something soothing about going for a walk and even more so if you can do it in the midst of nature. I like to focus on the feeling of my feet hitting the concrete or dirt path, the smell of the air, the sounds around me, the way the sun shines on my face. It all brings me to the present and gives me a level of clarity that just feels amazing.
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I really believe that the trick to doing this successfully is to do it with complete mindfulness. Allow yourself to be completely immersed in whatever you are doing. Feel every breath, focus on the moment and take in the emotion that comes over you.