Ever wish you could meditate, but can’t quite get the hang of it?
Let me tell you a secret…
Meditating doesn’t have to mean sitting cross-legged on the floor, humming unfamiliar sounds. While that might work for some people, it’s not suited to everyone.
The Art of Mindfulness and How to Apply It
Most of us have a hard time quietening our busy minds. But that’s understandable in an age where we’re expected to be connected and switched on 24/7.
Trying to switch a bunch of racing thoughts for a clear mind in the blink of an eye usually just won’t work. Personally, it makes me agitated, restless and unenthusiastic about meditating ever again.
The good news is, there are some easier ways to calm your mind if traditional meditation isn’t for you.
Mindfulness is one great tool you can use and you can apply it to almost everything you do in your day-to-day life.
All mindfulness means is simply to be conscious of what you’re doing. Or, to practice being in the present moment.
It’s easy to zone out during the tasks we do every day, such as washing the dishes or driving our cars, but mindfulness will help bring you back to the present and ease your racing thoughts without too much effort.
Here are 9 simple ways you can practice meditation (even if you’re a person that doesn’t meditate):
1. Breath Meditation
Breath meditation is exactly what it sounds like- it’s all about focusing your attention on your breath. Breathe in and out deeply and observe how the air feels as enters and leaves your body.
You can either do this for a set amount of time (such as 5 minutes) or you can do it until you reach a pre-set amount of breaths. Do whatever feels best for you.
2. Do It For 1 Minute
With our never-ending to-do lists and demanding jobs, it can be hard to find the time to meditate at all, never mind practice it!
But those high-stress days when we have no spare time are usually the days that mindfulness and meditation would help the most. Ironic, huh?
A great solution is the 1-minute mindfulness meditation.
A 1-minute meditation each morning (or whenever you feel stressed) will help you reconnect with the present moment and regain your mental clarity.
To begin, set your timer for 60 seconds. Then, sit upright on a chair with your feet planted on the ground and starting breathing deeply, in and out. Notice how your body feels and see if you can feel if there are any areas of tension.
When the timer stops, you’re free to carry on with your day! Having to commit for only 60 seconds makes it almost impossible to use the excuse that you don’t have enough time.
3. Get Colouring
Colouring is something most of us did for fun as children. But it can have a calming effect on adults, too!
A study carried out in New Zealand suggests that just 10 minutes of coloring a day can help ease symptoms of anxiety and depression. Pretty good, right?
Colouring also helps you to embrace your creative side, which a lot of us suppress as we get older.
There are many adult coloring books available to buy now. You can color anything from flowers to Game of Thrones characters, and I’ve even seen a whole coloring book dedicated to “dinosaurs with jobs”!
Cooking is an excellent way to practice mindfulness because it requires your utmost attention. I find it to be even more effective when I’m cooking a dish I’ve never made before.
Chopping, measuring ingredients and ensuring you’re using the correct method all require your full concentration if you want the dish to look and taste nice. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for your mind to think about anything else.
While you’re cooking, notice the different textures of your ingredients and how they feel in your hands. What can you smell, what can you hear?
If you notice your mind wandering, just gently bring it back to the task at hand. It doesn’t matter how many times you have to do this as long as you keep returning your mind to the present moment. Noticing that you got distracted is also being mindful.
5. Listen to Music
Listening to music is something you probably already do every day. But have you ever thought about turning it into a mindfulness exercise?
I’d recommend choosing music without lyrics to decrease the chance of your mind wandering. Take some deep breaths and really immerse yourself into the music.
Try to figure out which instruments are playing. Notice any changes in tempo or volume. How does the music make you feel? Again, gently bring your mind back to the present moment if you get distracted.
You can practice music mindfulness at home in a candle-lit room or you can practice it through your headphones during your daily commute. That’s one of the best things about mindfulness, you can do it wherever you are!
6. Get A Guide
If you like the idea of traditional meditation but struggle to stay focused, guided meditation may suit you best. Having someone there to guide you makes it easier to stay in the present moment.
There are thousands of free guided meditations available online and the lengths range from a few minutes to over 1 hour. You can start small and build your way up as you can better at meditating.
There are also several guided meditation apps available on IOS and Android. Some are completely free and most will at least offer a free trial. Two of my favorites are Headspace and Calm.
Yoga and Pilates aren’t the only forms of exercise that can help get you into a meditative state.
Running, high-intensity training, swimming, skipping and weight lifting are all great forms of exercise that will help keep your mind focused. Even just going for a long, mindful walk can do wonders for your mental wellbeing.
As you exercise, notice how it makes you feel. Has your heart rate increased? Do you feel good? Is your body sweating? Are you tired?
Try not to judge the thoughts you have, just observe them as if you were an outsider looking into your mind.
8. Connect with Nature
Walking in a forest, watching a beautiful sunset, picking apples from a tree, listening to ocean waves or even just watching the birds flying in the sky are all great ways to connect with nature in the present moment.
Go for a walk outside and note what you can see, hear, smell and feel. Can you hear birds squawking? How do the crunchy leaves feel under your shoes?
I like to leave my phone at home when I do this. I’m often tempted to take photos of the beautiful things I see. But by leaving my phone at home, I’m reminded to enjoy the present moment through my senses rather than through a screen.
Dust the shelves, throw out old clothes, do that big pile of dishes…
Cleaning is such an easy way to completely immerse yourself in the present moment without really trying.
If you hate cleaning and keep putting it off, blast your favorite music and try to view it as a fun mindfulness exercise instead of a chore.
Instead of rushing through your list of tasks, try to observe your surroundings. Look out for smells, textures and sounds you rarely notice, and note how they make you feel.