Scientists and researchers agree that a few minutes of mindfulness training per day can go a long way toward reducing stress and increasing well-being. Studies show that mindfulness practices have a positive impact on the structure of the brain, changing it for the better. So how is a busy mom supposed to squeeze in some anti-stress time to her already hectic lifestyle? Try adding a bit more mindfulness to these five simple activities throughout your day.
Mindfulness of breath
World re-nowned Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh teaches that basic mindfulness training begins with simple breath awareness. The mantra is, “I am aware that I am breathing in. I am aware that I am breathing out.” It is about breath awareness. Practicing this just a few minutes can bring great relaxation to even the body’s subtle energy fields.
Mindfulness of walking
How many times do we set out for a walk in nature and discover that we’ve taken all our “problems” along with us in our minds? Mindfulness of walking starts with breath awareness. Then, pay attention to your other body sensations. Notice the movement of your legs and feet as they meet the ground with each step. Notice your arms as they swing by your side (or perhaps push along the stroller). Be aware of your shoulders and your posture. From this place of body awareness, begin to notice the nature around you (by the way, nature includes people).
Mindfulness of tooth brushing
A great time to be mindful is while brushing your teeth. Has your dentist ever said to lighten up on your gums? Cultivating the practice of mindful tooth brushing can benefit not only our brains, but also our teeth and gums. Be aware of your thoughts during this time and refocus them onto what you’re doing. Watch the paste as it moves from the tube and onto the brush. Feel the brush in your hand. Gently caress your gums and teeth in slow, rhythmic motions. Bring presence to the process.
Mindfulness of doors
These next two practices come from Gaelyn Godwin of the Houston Zen Center. Today, notice the doorways you walk through. Slow down and put awareness onto the breath as you walk through. What shape is the doorway? What color? Are there signs? What do they say? How does your body feel as you move through? If one particular detail is more noticeable to you, pause and take a deep breath as you’re noticing. For instance, today I noticed the word “PUSH” on my local coffee shop door. This detail evoked a deep breath from me. It only took a moment to bring mindfulness to a doorway I walk through almost daily. More importantly, I brought awareness to a deeper process that’s happening inside me.
Mindfulness of shoes
I love this one from Gaelyn Godwin. Be mindful of your shoes as you’re slipping them onto your feet. Give gratitude to each shoe for protecting you, for helping you move through this world, for bringing you comfort. Perhaps your shoes are visually appealing. Thank them for bringing you pleasure. Feel into each shoe as you take your first steps in them on this brand new day. Really feel and breathe into the newness of this day. Bless your path and the steps you will take on it today.