We all know we should be meditating.
It's one of the most beneficial things we can do to improve mental health and general well-being.
It also seems to be one of the hardest habits to start and continue.
We rush through life, from one thing to the next, trying to squeeze all our to-do lists into every spare hour of the day. We rush to fit more and more into our life, to the detriment of our physical and mental health. All the while saying we don't have time for ourselves.
Now I am a firm believer that 'time' isn't the issue, our priorities and motivations are. Mindfulness is less something that we need to do at a specific time and more of a state to be in.
If you're finding it difficult to set aside specific time to meditate then give some of these a go. Bring mindfulness into as many aspects of your daily life as possible.
Eating slowly with mindfulness is one of the best ways to bring presence to our days. So often we eat a whole meal without even tasting it. So many times I've gone to take a sip of my coffee and it's all gone but I have no real memory of drinking it. We comfort eat, guilt eat, even forget to eat. We have such an unhealthy relationship with food and it links into a bigger issue with our minds. Slowing down and eating with intention can be almost painful, and after one mouthful you'll be itching to speed up, but try to eat paying attention to everything. The flavours, the texture, your thoughts about it, your thoughts about yourself, how your body feels, everything.
Doing the dishes
"Washing dishes is not only a Zen exercise, but you get the dishes get clean too." is a line from a book of Zen. This one, in particular, has always stuck with me. Mindfulness isn't something we do for ten minutes a day. It's a state we can inhabit at any point, doing anything, even things we don't want to do. When we pay attention to what we are doing, to the bubbles and the dirt, to the warm water on our hands, the steam, the sounds, we are present in the moment. And that is the true goal of mindfulness.
Making your bed
You've heard the advice a thousand times but making your bed sets the tone for your day and your space. So do it with intention, be present, avoid rushing to get it done. We spend so much time on autopilot, go through the motions on automatic. Focusing on nothing but one thing for even a couple of minutes can help us ground us, return us to our body and the here and now. A tiny bit of space in an otherwise chaotic morning can prevent our stress levels from exploding and can help keep us grounded throughout the day. And then you also have a neat bedroom. Winning!
Showering is a perfect time to meditate, that's why there are so many shower meditations and visualisations out there. You can even listen to them if you need more guidance to stay focused or you feel unsure about what to actually do. If you want to keep it simple just pay attention to the sensations in your body, the smell of the soap, the feel of the water. Try to keep the lights dim and play relaxing music to take it to the next level. We can spend so much of our lives in a complicated relationship with our body, so much time spent ignoring it, that it can be hard to reconnect. Spending time in the shower noticing how the water feels on your body can bring you out of your mind and thoughts, and help you come to the here and now.
I find weeding so calming and meditative. It's often what I do when I'm stressed or angry. There's something in the combination of being outside, working with your hands and also doing a repetitive motion that combines to create peace. Watering or weeding the garden are easy activities to bring mindfulness to because they are quite simple. Take the time to notice sunlight, smell flowers, listen to birds, marvel at seedlings and all that jazz. The stop and smell the roses saying didn't spring up out of nowhere as an overused phrase. It's a reminder to notice our surrounding, to be present in our experience of this world. You don't even need a huge garden, just a couple of house plants or even better a make terrarium!!
Mindfulness can seem complicated but really, it's just being in the moment, whatever moment that is. Any moment it's possible to be mindful, these are some of the easier ones to begin with. As we practice with these it becomes easier to be mindful in times of stress.