Something we probably all wish we did more, but seldom remember to make time for, is being mindful. Life can get hectic and, before you know it, time passes in a flash. To be mindful means to be conscious and aware of one’s thoughts, feelings, motivations, and body. Some describe it as taking a moment to go off of autopilot and self-reflecting. Numerous benefits come from being mindful, including reduced stress, better memory, improved focus, and less emotional reactivity. With our busy schedules, it can seem difficult to force ourselves to stop and breath. But doing so is easier than one might think, even for the busiest of us. After all, the ability to contemplate our own lives is part of being human! Here are a few of our favorite ways to make sure we stay mindful, even when life is flying by.
Depending on how packed your schedule is, carving out some time at the very beginning of your day before diving into busy work can have many benefits. This allows you to organize your thoughts, map out your day, think about what you want to strive for, and take some time to reflect on how yesterday went. Once you get your body used to getting up a little bit earlier, morning meditation can be more effective than coffee, and gives you the energy you need to stay motivated throughout your day. It doesn’t need to be a long ordeal - even five minutes can make a significant difference.
Taking the occasional walk
If you are looking for a moment when you can press pause in your busy day, taking the time (even ten minutes) to take a short walk can be a moment for meditation. Taking a walk is not only good for your daily health, it has also been proven to help us think better. When you find yourself feeling stuck on a task in the office, or simply need a moment to gather yourself, taking a brief walk around the block can clear your head and help you come back energized. It can even help you gain a new perspective on your work.
Hitting the gym or exercising in your living room is more than just a chance to work out your body. It is one of the best ways to work out your mind. Working out is a unique opportunity to become acutely attuned to your own breathing and “internal environment,” while also being a great opportunity to think. The repetitive actions involved with running or using the spin bike make for a great chance to disengage a bit and consider how your day went, or how it is going to go, and what you expect from yourself.
Listen to music
Speaking of working out, many people often listen to music while doing so. This is great to do at the gym, but listening to music at any time can be a great opportunity to be more mindful. One way to really get the most out of the experience is to practice listening deeply - that is, to really contemplate the qualities of the music itself and experience it on a deeper level. This can not only help you stretch your mind a bit - it can give you a greater appreciation for the music you love!
Listen to someone
Perhaps one of the best ways to be mindful is to actually listen to someone else. When we say listen, it may seem obvious enough. However, most people often forget that listening is a complex act in and of itself. There is a distinction between mindless and mindful listening, and the later involves being fully present when interacting with others. Benefits of mindful listening include having a deeper understanding of the conversation you are having, a more meaningful interaction with the person you are speaking with, as well as being more aware of your own responses. By listening mindfully, we think outside of ourselves in addition to reflecting inside, making for more meaningful (and effective) communication overall.