Mindful Habits For Busy Urbanites
Tap into a happier way of being by incorporating mindfulness into your daily life
Mindfulness refers to our ability to be fully present, and while we naturally have it, many of us get so swept up by our hectic lives that we forget how to be mindful. We’re always looking for ways to release stress and live more happily – the practice of mindfulness allows us to put space between ourselves and our reactions, enabling us to cope better with different circumstances. The good news is, purposefully practicing it on a daily basis makes it a way of life. In fact, growing research shows that mindfulness training remodels the physical structure of our brains!
Want a healthier and happier mind? Here’s how you can bring balance back into your life:
Set Your Intention For The Day
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up every morning? If you asked a wellness practitioner, chances are high that he’ll tell you about how he kickstarts his mornings on a positive note by setting his intention for the day ahead.
Think of intention setting as an act that’s similar to the setting of new year resolutions, except they aren’t as lofty. Instead, everyday intentions are about smaller daily tasks that you can easily manage and actually achieve. The setting of intentions helps to create more clarity in your life, especially when the seed is planted right before the start of a meditation practice.
Intention setting is like mapping out where you want to be headed — your intention becomes the driving force of your higher consciousness. For instance, if your intention for the day is “I intend to stop taking things personally”, your clarity of purpose will put you in a better frame of mind to meet any situation from a new level of being, allowing you to manage circumstances more patiently and with less frustration.
If you meditate in the mornings, set your intention before you start. Alternatively, try writing them down into a notebook which you refer to frequently, or on post-it notes which you can stick anywhere in plain sight (like on the fridge or on your computer). Some people also find it helpful to have a quote engraved on a bracelet or ring which they wear every day, to remind themselves of their intentions.
Be Mindful of Your Breath
There’s a reason why we are always told to focus on our breaths during yoga practice. Taking slow and controlled deep breaths not only allows for maximum oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange, it can also help to lower blood pressure. And the best part? Breathing exercises are really easy to do. If you’re having a stressful period at work, set hourly reminders to take a minute or two for some deep breathing exercises. This simple habit can help to relieve stress and improve concentration.
Don’t Rush Through Your Meals
Remember how mum’s always telling you to eat your dinner at the dining table? Turns out, it’s more than just discipline she’s been instilling. According to research, people who are distracted from their meals (either with work or by watching television), tend not to feel as satisfied by their meals, as those who focused on their food. So if you’re used to wolfing down lunch at your work desk, it might explain why you are so prone to snacking throughout the afternoon. Taking your time to enjoy every bite and savouring every flavour, also helps you be mindful of how much you’re actually eating (this helps to avoid overeating or bingeing).
Meditation brings about a sense of inner calm and clarity. To fully reap its benefits, it is important to not have your thoughts, emotions or judgment take over.
Daily meditation can easily be done in the comfort of your own home. If you’re a beginner, try starting your practice by sitting or lying down in quietness for about 10 minutes a day. Learn to be aware of how your body feels without being judgemental. The aim is not to control your thoughts or block out distractions – let the thoughts float by without fighting them. If you find it tricky at first, try focusing on a certain spot on the wall or by watching the flame of a single burning candle. With practice, it can help improve your focus, as well as awareness of your thoughts and emotions.
Connect With Nature
Another great way of practicing mindfulness every day is by paying attention to your surroundings. It doesn’t necessarily have to involve going on a hike or taking a deliberate walk in the park. The next time you’re on your way to lunch, look up from your smart phone and pay attention to how the leaves rustle and sway in the breeze. Or try to spot a chirping bird! Above all, take stock of how taking it all in makes you feel, and surrender to the sheer joy of being in the present.