In the last post I discussed how everyday meditation doesn't need to be restricted to the perfectly Zen, pigeon-holed variety popularized in memes and Instagram photos of people in blissful quiet contemplation. You don't need to sit deep in the jungle/desert/forest contemplating life to see the benefits of your meditation practice. This post will be a little bit shorter, but here are some quick examples of ways you can find meditation/contemplation in your daily life without ever crossing your legs or closing your eyes.
Tips To Help You Find Mindfulness In Your Daily Life
- Take mini breathing breaks: This is the easiest of the bunch, because you can do it virtually anywhere. Stop what you're doing and take ten big breaths focusing on inhales and exhales in your mind's eye. Do it several times a day. You'll find yourself feeling less stressed, calmer, etc.
- Immerse yourself in what you're doing, whatever it is. We live in a world of nearly endless temptation for distraction disguising itself as entertainment. This can manifest itself in needless multi-tasking (my favorite version is listening to podcasts while doing pretty much everything) or just plain 'ol distraction from your actual priorities. Candy Crush, anyone? This also applies to virtually every social media platform, which are designed to steal your attention. Instead of trying to do three things at once, try to completely immerse yourself in a single task. If you're writing, write with all of your focus solely on writing. If you're mowing the lawn, focus on getting your lines perfectly straight. If you're an avid weightlifter, try lifting without music and focusing only on the lift. Arnold Schwarzenegger famously says that when he was training for Mr. Universe he would find meditation 'inside' his muscles, contemplating their growth with each rep. This principle can apply to anything if you can get out of the modern mindset of "more is better". Put down your phone and focus.
- What is your passion? Spend some time with it every day. I am a music guy, and I will always be part adolescent music geek. However, this doesn't keep me from neglecting my listenership by doing daily tasks with music merely as ambient noise. For this reason, I take a few minutes every day to really listen to some piece of music, whether it's a song or an entire album. For me, the artistry is in the details, and taking the time to parse out the nuance and beauty from my favorite musicians' vision is deeply meaningful. It can also be as difficult as sitting still in a traditional meditation, simply because the temptation of distraction is so intense. I'll write more about music, meditation and yoga later, but for now try it out with a song you really love. I can virtually guarantee you'll find something new to love. This can apply to reading, art or really any other creative medium. Take your pick.
- Leave your phone at home for one day a week. This one ties many of the above together. If entertainment and distraction are our new addiction, then our phones are the needle delivering the goods. Taking away that little box of stimulus is pretty dern hard sometimes, but not having it blinking and beeping in your pocket, even for a couple of hours, feels really great sometimes. Without the temptation of constant distraction, you force yourself to not only focus on what you're doing, but perhaps even to **gasp** have a conversation with someone! Look them in the eye while you speak, and maybe afterwards you can even sit down and read a real, honest-to-God, paper publication.
Or meditate. There's an idea.
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