Mindfulness and meditation. Two words that are used simultaneously and are separate in definition. It took me some time to understand the difference. Practicing mindfulness is not the same as meditating but, we can use mindfulness during meditation.
MINDFULNESS ≠ MEDITATION
MINDFULNESS: Being mindful is the act of being engaged with the present moment.
MEDITATION: Meditation is a tool practiced daily to live a more mindful life.
One of the challenges I hear clients and students mention most is, “I don’t have enough time to practice meditation”. I understand this. We’ve all out-scheduled ourselves. We feel hurried and out of balance. Even on our busiest days, we can incorporate shorter practices so that we can lead a more mindful life.
Can you spare 2 minutes to breathe?
I hope so because we’re doing it anyway! Two minutes is plenty of time to ground ourselves in the present moment using our breath. Maybe you can take two minutes in your car, in the grocery store parking lot, before you grab your bags, exit the car, and walk into the store. Here’s how:
- Set the timer on your phone for two minutes.
- Start your timer. (this is an important step in case you are tired and in jeopardy of falling asleep!)
- Gently close your eyes or gaze in front of you.
- The first tow counts is on inhale, the next two are one exhale. Breathe as deeply as you can in those two seconds. INHALE…one…two…EXHALE…one…two.
- When the timer ends, take a few seconds to notice how you feel. Do you notice a change? How is your breathing? Do you feel calmer?
There is so much evidence on how conscious breath benefits our minds and bodies and this quick practice os one of many ways to bring us to more mindful living.
Infants don’t know what “things” are yet. All they see are shapes, colors, light, texture, and movement. Try looking at the simplest object with infant eyes. Here’s how:
- I’ll use a reusable water bottle as an example. Answer these questions while observing the bottole. Take two deep breaths before beginning.
- What shape is it?
- What is the color?
- Is it shiny? Is it dull?
- Does it have a texture? Does it look pleasing to touch?
- Is there a handle? Do you sense an urge or have a thought about reaching out or grabbing the handle or the cylinder?
- Do we instinctively understand which containers are for water? Does someone teach us these types of containers are for liquid?
Becoming aware of such detail can ground us in the moment and reset our brains and you can do it anywhere with anything!
Walking. Whenever. Wherever. However.
When is the last time you thought about walking? It’s such an automatic movement. We don’t have to think about it, but if we do, we can create a mindfulness activity by observing each step. Try paying attention to your walking the next time you step out. Here’s how:
- Let’s go back to the grocery store parking lot. You’ve exited your car and now you take your first step toward the entrance of the store. This is a great beginner distance for walking meditation. Yes, this is considered a mindfulness meditation practice!
- Notice the pressure of your foot on the ground through your shoe. (I hope you have shoes on…no shirt, no shoes, no service and all that!)
- What shoes do you have on? Are they supportive? Do you have socks on? Can you feel those socks rubbing on your feet as you step forward? Do your feet feel hot or cold? Are your feet sweaty?
- What movements are happening in your body as you shift from one foot to the other? Is your knee bending? Do your hips sway? Is there movement in your ankles/ Your arms? Shoulders? Do your joints make noise? Do you feel your closes on your skin or maybe they flow with the breeze?
- What is your mind doing while observing your walking? Are you gurried to get the shopping finished? Are you anticipating your next step?
- What happens in your body and mind if you slow your pace? Speed up? Stop altogether?
- Enter the store adn you’re done! You did it! How do you feel now?
I love doing this in my home where I can walk myself silly. Try it! Walk in funny ways. TWIRL! Squat walk. Try teeny tiny steps. Observe what your mind does and how your body feels each step. Make it fun or use it in your regular schedule. it all counts. There is no wrong or right way to do this!
Have fun experimenting with these brief practices! If yu find yourself wondering about a longer practice, check out my guided meditation page.