Learning how to practice mindfulness in daily life can seem incredibly difficult, unrealistic, or even unattainable in our modern world that runs fast and furiously. Mindfulness doesn’t seem to have a place in our society these days. We are conditioned to constantly be moving quickly and working toward future events, goals, and achievements.
Depression and anxiety are on the rise. One cause could be because as a society, we constantly worry about the past or future. We spend very little time in the present moment or as we say “being mindful”.
Mindfulness for everyday living can seem like it only belongs to a Buddhist monk living a secluded life in the Himalayas, or to someone that has shunned our modern way of living.
But, the truth is, there are many things you can do to practice mindfulness exercises for everyday life. The way to mindfulness is just as possible and relevant to our daily lives now than it has ever been.
In fact, we need to practice mindfulness in daily life now more than ever before!
In this article, I will break down how to practice mindfulness in your daily life. There are five pillars of mindfulness that I teach in my yoga classes, in my mindful eating programs, and with my wellness counseling clients.
Practicing mindfulness techniques in daily life has worked for me and my students. I hope it can also help you find a life full of joy, contentment, and presence as well.
If you are interested in learning more about mindfulness try any of my mindful programs! My favorite is The Mindful Elimination Program. This program helps you not only to dig into mindful living, but also to learn to eat mindfully too. The program combines anti-inflammation and mindful eating for a life-changing 40 days!
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” Mother Teresa
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What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the ability to be completely present and aware at any given moment. Mindfulness in our daily lives means that we are not overwhelmed by thoughts about the past or future. This means that we are not in a highly reactionary state of mind. And, that we fully engage in what we are actively doing in the present moment.
Fully engaging in the present moment means to be aware of all of your senses and to be aware of what is happening around you, while accepting what is without judgment.
If this seems difficult to do, the truth is that it is difficult! We are conditioned to not live this way in our modern world that aims to distract, sell, numb, and undermine the practice of stillness.
We are not trained in our modern-day society to be mindful in our daily lives. Often, we are using coping techniques to take us out of the present and into the past or present state of being. With that said, let’s discuss how to practice mindfulness in daily life.
Ways To Practice Mindfulness In Daily Life
There are many mindfulness exercises and practices that can help you work toward living in a content and present state of being. But, I have narrowed my practice into 5 pillars that I think take you through the steps of being mindful.
These five pillars of mindfulness sum up how to make mindfulness work in your daily life. Once you get used to working through these pillars of mindfulness you will find that it becomes part of who you are and how you operate. This is where the real benefits of mindfulness come into play, and we will talk about benefits in this article as well.
I love the way that Psychology Today defines awareness. The publication states in an article, “It is about recognizing that just because a thought appears in the mind, we are not that thought, and just because we might feel a certain way at a particular time, we are not that feeling.”
This is exactly how I began to practice mindfulness in my daily life. I practiced yoga and meditation and more stillness. As I did this, I began to become more in tune with my thoughts, and aware of my thoughts. I started to recognize that I wasn’t my thoughts, I was the one hearing my thoughts.
For me, the awareness pillar of mindfulness gave me the gift of being able to separate myself from the constant running mind that drove me to stress, anxiety, fear, and anger. Being able to step out of a thought is incredibly powerful.
The best way to tap into this deeper awareness is by starting beneficial practices for cultivating mindfulness. Start with a yoga class or meditation. I offer some great classes to begin your yoga practice, please give them a try!
The next pillar of mindfulness is acceptance, and it is very much as it sounds. When we practice acceptance, we practice being in the moment AS IT IS. Not as you wish it were, not as it was in the past, but accepting how it is in the here and the now.
This can be incredibly difficult for us. I know in my experience, I automatically default to reflecting on an experience as it is happening. The thing is, if you are replaying it and analyzing it, you are already taking yourself out of the present and into the past or future.
I read this quote in the book Mindfulness, by Gill Hasson. He said, “When you begin to accept the way things are right now, you can open up new possibilities that did not appear to exist before.”
I use this mindfulness exercise in my life by simply saying to myself, “If I can accept things just as they are, I can reveal the real possibilities that are in front of and me. Then I can see how life is opening up for me.”
The pillar of mindfulness called non-judgment is a bit like acceptance, but with non-judgment, I practice not labeling experiences.
We all label. It is almost impossible for us not to. Someone walks past us on the street and we analyze their looks: “attractive or unattractive”, “big or small”, or “seems friendly or unfriendly”, etc.
When we eat food especially, we are constantly judging what we eat. This food is “good” or “bad” or “healthy” or “unhealthy”
We also step out of mindful living in our daily lives by judging our days. This was a “stressful day” or “hard day” or this was the “best day ever!”
But, usually, we are labeling an entire day based on one experience that we spend our day replaying, recreating, reflecting, and being caught in how it was or how we wanted it to be.
See where I am going with this???
It is all connected! Awareness and acceptance mean non-judgment.
A fun exercise is to try not to place judgment on people, food, experiences for one whole day and see how difficult it is! I think this is a particularly important part of mindfulness, that can truly help you find peace and contentment in your daily life.
4. Beginner’s Mind
Our brain is so powerful! It is constantly analyzing and putting bits of information together, to help us become smarter, sharper, faster, and more critical thinkers.
This was so important to us centuries ago, when we needed to learn things rather quickly for survival. But now, in a much safer world, it can be distracting, overly critical, and can cause us to feel fear when we aren’t in danger.
Try to step out of all the millions of pieces of information being put together in your mind. Instead, look at things like it is the first time we can see them. This means subtracting all past experiences from getting in the way.
We may see a new outcome that wasn’t there before. Or, you might notice something really great and beautiful about a person by looking at them with a beginner’s mind.
Having a beginner’s mind is a way to practice mindfulness throughout your day that can be super beneficial to you in your life. Plus, it is so much more exciting to experience our daily lives like it is always the first time.
I know on the surface we all know to be grateful for the things that we have and to appreciate our lives. But very few of us take time to be in true gratitude.
Gratitude can be a powerful mindfulness tool. In the simplest and gentlest of ways it can bring pleasure, joy, and love to our lives. We just have to step into it. Yes, you should come up with things to be grateful for each day. This is a great practice.
But for me, the big change happened in my daily life when I began getting rid of the BUT word.
I find the less I use the word but, the more content and happier I am.
So how does this work?
I stopped saying things like, “My kitchen is nice, but I hate my counter tops.”
“My husband cooked dinner tonight for our family, but I wish he would have picked something the kids like better.”
“My mom offered to help with the kids, but I wish she offered more.”
“I really like my job, but I wish I made more money.”
Any of these resonate?
The most practical way to find gratitude in your life is to stop butting all over the good stuff in your life.
The truth is, it sounds simpler than it is. Learning how to practice mindfulness in daily life, helps you become aware of these negative thoughts when you have them. It can help you separate the thought from the need of the real person inside you.
We all can find reasons to be in gratitude in our lives. It is when we dismiss gratitude, that we start living somewhere in the past or present. When we do that, we miss how great life is in the present.
Mindful living is found in the present.
How To Practice Mindfulness Throughout The Day
Simple Mindfulness Exercises
Mindfulness shows up in my life in the simplest and subtlest of ways. And yet, it has had a profound effect on my mental health, emotional health, and my overall feeling of contentment in life.
What do simple mindfulness exercises look like in our daily lives?
Here are some of the simplest ways to add mindfulness into your life:
- Seated, walking, standing, and moving meditation
- Short pauses we insert into everyday life
- Merging meditation practice with other activities, such as yoga or sports
Yoga is my go-to mindfulness exercise, and I always recommend yoga as a beginner’s step to living a mindful life. The practice of yoga is about helping the body, mind, emotions, and spirit work in conjunction with one another.
The movement, flow, and quietness of yoga lends itself to finding mindfulness. I often recommend people try yoga first before other mindfulness exercises because it is active. But at the same time it cultivates mindfulness without trying to “be mindful”.
If you are interested in diving into the practice of yoga, I created a short 5-day yoga program that helps ease you into what it means to begin practicing yoga on a deeper level. It includes quick 25-minute yoga practices each day, along with journaling and inspiration to help you find mindfulness in your daily life. It is the perfect way to start your yoga journey!
Benefits Of Practicing Mindfulness For Your Health
Mindfulness has been proven to not only help with our mental health, but also our physical health. Here are some awesome benefits of adding mindfulness to your daily life:
Physical Health: Mindfulness can help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties. Mindfulness is also been proven to help people sleep better and perform better in physical activities such as sports and running, as well as even some links to cardiovascular health.
Mental Health: Mindfulness can help with depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, couples’ conflicts, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention-deficit disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, just to name a few.
Tip: Yoga is a great practice to help with mental health. Check out these three ways yoga can help anxiety.
Resources For Practicing Mindfulness Everyday
One of the best ways to begin mindfulness is to find a teacher or author or instructor that you connect with and begin following them, reading their work, and hopefully taking classes with them.
I highly suggest starting with the practice of yoga. Yoga in the United States continues to grow rapidly and most cities now have resources for yoga classes available.
If you are uncomfortable taking classes in person, I also offer a yoga class duo that is perfect for seeing how you like yoga. The duo package includes one strength-building class and one stretching class. The shorter practices are great for new practitioners or those seeking to fit in yoga in their daily lives without much time. Each class includes mindful meditation and a great way to center and practice mindfulness. I hope you will give my classes a try
One of my favorite teachers is Zen Master Thich Nhat Hahn. I highly recommend reading one of his many incredible books. Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh is a global spiritual leader, poet, and peace activist, and is revered around the world for his pioneering teachings on mindfulness, global ethics, and peace.
His words always touch me and he is great at taking complex ideas and making them understandable for our everyday lives.
Another way I love to practice mindfulness is through poetry. I am a big fan of Danna Faulds and her work. I find her work is revealing about the inner truths of mindfulness and what it means to put these ideas into work in your daily life.
Check out my favorite book that I turn to all the time, Go In and In. This book is such a great resource to have for daily mindful inspiration.
Mindfulness in your daily life can work if you are willing to decide to become aware and to start putting it into practice in your life. I can honestly share, that nothing in my life has helped me more than learning these mindful practices. I know that they can help you too.
If you want to ask me questions about my mindfulness practice I would love to hear from you! Contact me today!