In this era of digital overload, learning mindfulness can help
Do you suffer from brain overload? Do you feel like your mind is constantly being interrupted by pings and notifications? Are you always multi-tasking and managing too many things all at one time? Do you find your attention span feels shorter or you have less patience than you used to? If so, you might find that you benefit from the practice of mindfulness.
Mindfulness means paying full attention to whatever activity you are doing at the present. It means living in the moment. It means thinking about the present, rather than worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. It means being aware. Practicing mindfulness is similar to meditation, and in fact it’s one component of meditation.
Leading a mindful life doesn’t mean that you need to be mindful 24 hours a day. You can practice mindfulness in baby steps, taking just 10 minutes here and there to do mindfulness exercises. Here are some great exercises to practice if you want to lead a more mindful lifestyle:
1. Observe your five senses
Most of us take our senses for granted. With mindfulness, you can get back in touch with your senses. Try going for a walk and focusing on one sense at a time. What are you hearing? Birds? Cars? Insects? Next, isolate your sense of smell. Can you tell what season it is based on the smell? When you get to your sight, try to shift your focus from seeing things to receiving images. The shift from seeing to receiving is subtle, but it makes you more aware of your sense of sight.
2. Observe your thoughts
If you are a worrier, this exercise can make a big difference. Rather than dwelling on a particular worry, try to step back and observe your worries from a distance. Pretend each worry is a car on a road, and let it pass by. Don't judge the worries or try to fix them. Just accept your thoughts without judging. This exercise can change your perspective on your worries and alleviate some of the stress.
3. Eat mindfully
Many of us eat while we’re working on a computer or sitting in front of the TV, and we barely acknowledge what we’ve eaten. As a mindfulness exercise, try eating mindfully. Savor each bite. Observe the taste and the feeling of the food in your mouth. Enjoy chewing it. Enjoy the smell of the food. This deliberate awareness of your eating can help you curb bad eating habits and enjoy the process of eating foods you love.
4. Mindful breathing
Observing your own breathing is a common practice in many disciplines such as yoga and meditation. Take 10 minutes and try to shut off your mind to everything around you except for your breathing. Feel the breath going in and out of your nose, and let all other thoughts go. It can be hard to shut down your thoughts in this way, but once you get the hang of it, you may find it helps you relax, focus, and let go of your stress.
5. Bring mindfulness to an everyday task
Do you ever go on automatic pilot when doing the dishes, taking a shower, or filling your gas tank? Instead of going on automatic pilot, use these everyday tasks as an opportunity to practice mindfulness. When washing the dishes, think about the feel of the warm water on your hands and feel the way the dish soap bubbles up. While filling up your gas tank, observe the sights and smells at the gas station, and watch the numbers on the meter as your tank fills. Being “in the moment” can help your mind gain greater focus.
6. Be a mindful listener
Are you guilty of letting your mind wander when someone else is talking? If you are someone who tunes out of conversations, this exercise could help you. Try to become a more mindful listener the next time you are in a conversation with someone. Stop whatever else you are doing, look the person in the eye, and give them your full attention. Concentrate on forming an appropriate response to what they are saying. Improving your listening will help you be more engaged with the people around you.
7. Try guided mindfulness exercises
YouTube and other commercially available resources offer guided mindfulness exercises. They can be helpful if you are having trouble quieting your mind. With practice, you will get better at mindfulness, and may find that you really like it!
If you feel frazzled with an overactive mind, mindfulness exercises could be a great opportunity for you to get in better touch with your senses and to help settle your thought. Remember, it takes some time to get good at mindfulness. Give yourself some time to practice it, and over time, you may find that it makes the difference you were looking for!
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