5 Ways to Create a Mindfulness Practice
Yesterday, I shared an article highlighting all the benefits of mindfulness on the Athleta Chi Blog. (Click here if you missed it).
Mindfulness is defined as a moment-to-moment awareness of one's experience without judgment. Thankfully, it’s not a quality some have and others don’t, but we all have the power to choose it.
Developing a practice of mindfulness has never been more important than now. We live in a culture that glorifies busyness. The busier and more stressed out you appear can create a false impression of being productive, important, and super successful. And while we may feel like we have accomplished everything, being stressed out and mindlessly going through the day can have some unfortunate effects on us mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Life moves quickly, and if we hope to leave a legacy with more significance than our task completion rate, it’s in our best interest to learn how to frequently pause and pay attention. Thankfully, over the past few years, multiple forms of mindfulness practice have become mainstream as an answer to our stressed out struggles.
Creating a regular practice of mindfulness encourages us to make decisions that better align with our values and to stay focused on our purpose. It helps us to recognize the positives, eliminate unnecessary stressors, and ultimately enjoy our day-to-day lives a little more. We actually end up being more productive by becoming aware of tasks that are most important, and are better able to say no to things that don't deserve our time or energy.
So how can we begin to introduce more mindfulness into our daily lives?
1. Start with Your Breath
Breathing is one of the best ways to center yourself. And although it's an automatic response, many of us have developed poor breathing techniques over time and years of stress. But if you can control your breath, you can control your stress. So by slowing down and taking deep breaths, we automatically calm our mind, ease our tension, and become more present. Click here for 3 breathing exercises you can do anywhere.
2. Start a Gratitude Journal
Gratitude is powerful. So much so, that it's been shown to have quite a few physical and emotional benefits. Expressing gratitude reduces toxic emotions such as resentment, envy, and frustration, and in turn increases our ability to be empathetic. It can also effectively reduce depression, increase levels of happiness, and improve our self esteem and ability to be resilient. We also sleep better when we practice gratitude.
One of my favorite resources is the 5 Minute Journal, but you can also use a simple note pad and start by writing 3 things you're grateful for. Do this once in the morning and once more before you go to bed. Sandwiching your day with gratitude and mindfulness can increase your awareness of all the good in your life, improving the way you make decisions and treat the people around you. Oh, and spread the love! Be sure to let the people you're thankful for know how much they mean to you!
3. Develop Healthy Mindfulness Routines
While mindful and routine may not seem to go hand in hand, we are naturally creatures of habit. So developing routines that support a practice of mindfulness can help us get in a good groove. Both my night and morning routines include space for me to practice mindfulness. I keep it relatively simple, taking deep breaths, writing down a few things I'm grateful for, and being present. This alone has transformed the way I feel, physically, mentally, and emotionally. (See my favorite night routine here).
4. Define Your Non-Negotiables
When it comes to health and wellbeing, one of the most important skills to learn is how to create boundaries. When we have clear-cut boundaries for things that are important to us, it becomes easier for us to say no to things that don't align with our values or visions. When the decisions you're making and the people you're around support who you ultimately want to become, you'll find yourself encouraged, in flow, and feeling amazing.
5. Enlist Accountability
It's hard to make changes by ourselves. Accountability is one of the biggest factors in whether or not we are successful. It's best to put some accountability into place when it comes to our mental goals as well. So find a friend or a significant other who also wants to practice mindfulness, so you can gently encourage each other throughout the day. Join a meditation group, hire a coach, or download an app that will effectively remind you to pause.
With a little intention and practice, mindfulness can become a part of your daily life allowing you to reap all the amazing benefits!
*Photo by Kelsey Cherry.