Being fully aware of the present moment allows for greater appreciation of life and its gifts. Sometimes routine activities like going to work or school, participating in social events, even cooking dinner can impair mindfulness. Stressful situations can be difficult to be mindful through as well. There are, however, some simple, practical ways to improve your mindfulness and get you re-centered in the present.
The world is a noisy place. Thanks to the noise at the office, cars whirring by on the street, conversations at a busy restaurant or the simple hum of all the electronic devices within your home, more than likely, you are rarely in a place of complete and utter silence.
A quiet environment can definitely help you in your mindfulness practice, though. As you are practicing in a quiet environment, take notice of the sounds that emerge within the sanctity of that quiet space. It could be the hum of the refrigerator or the sound of rain. If feelings of anxiety emerge due to the lack of conventional noise, acknowledge them, then give yourself permission to let them go.
Be mindful of your breathing.
Most people, when experiencing stress, tend to hold their breath. When you find yourself in these moments throughout the day, reminding yourself to breathe can be very helpful. Take a moment to take a deep fulfilling breath in through your nose, focusing on how the air feels as it enters your body, then slowly breathe out through your mouth, deflating the belly and relaxing the shoulders.
As you go through the day, be mindful of your breath and if you find yourself taking tense, constricted breaths, give yourself time to recenter and re-balance your breathing technique.
I began using a Spire Stone to be more mindful of my breathing and it is amazing how much it has helped. The stone is a wearable tracker that monitors your breathing and activity level. If your breathing becomes “tense,” the stone vibrates, reminding you to be mindful of your breathing. You can even open the app for a guided breathing visual to help you. I used the app at first to learn how to slow my breathing down. I was shocked at how tense my breathing was – the stone was buzzing all the time. Even when I slowed my breathing down to what I thought was relaxed, it was still pretty tense. Using the visual helped me feel what truly relaxed breathing should feel like. It's now much easier for me to correct my breathing and be more mindful when I am tense.
It's easy to focus on the negative aspects of the world and forget to appreciate what makes our lives great. This cycle leads to bitterness and more bad feelings, though, since “where attention goes, energy flows.” Include a session of gratitude into your mindfulness practice to keep a focus on the things that you appreciate in your life. One simple technique for expressing gratitude is to make a list of all the things which you are grateful for daily. Writing the ideas down on paper gives a visual reminder of all the things you are grateful for and puts life into perspective when you are not having the best day.