Day-to-day life is a busy experience. Going through the day, we’re generally in a hurry to get our work done and move onto the next thing. It’s all too easy to forget to notice the present moment, as we’re so busy thinking about all of the things we have to do, and all of the things we’ve already done. By forgetting to be truly present, we’re missing out on a whole other layer of life. Here are a few ways to stay mindful without ever having to go on a retreat.
When you’re sitting at a desk all day or working on a computer, you can easily get sucked into a pattern of ignoring your body to concentrate on your work. It’s only when you get up from the chair that you notice that you’ve been sitting in an uncomfortable position all day, and now your back is killing you, you’re tired, your eyes ache, and you’re still full of all the stress from your work day.
This pattern is surprisingly easy to break. All you need to do is remind yourself. Every half hour, check on yourself: are you sitting with your back straight? Are you breathing from the diaphragm? Are you hydrated? Keep a bottle of water by you at all times; dehydration is a root cause of headaches, fatigue, and stress. Every hour or so, make sure that you stand up from your desk and walk around a little. When you do so, be as aware as possible of all the sensations of your body. Breathe deeply, and feel your body respond.
While you’re on your lunch break, you should also remain mindful. Mindless eating means that you’re not really paying attention to what you’re putting into your body, and can lead to overeating. Slow down when you’re having lunch. Be aware of all the flavours and textures of the food in your mouth as you chew. Bring all of your senses to your food: consider the colours and aromas as well as the taste. Chew everything well, and notice all the different flavours released when you do so.
Mindful eating may sound like a strange idea, but approaching your food in this way really helps you to appreciate the meal. It also leads to smaller portion size and healthier choices, as you deeply consider what you’re putting into your body. Your mental health is inextricably linked to your physical health: be kind to yourself!
As you walk to and from work, or just around your workplace, pay attention to details. Look for things you hadn’t noticed before. Notice the color of shadows, and the birds that fly overhead.
When we ignore the present moment, immersing ourselves in hypothetical ideas about future stresses, we end up anxious and overwrought. By giving our full concentration to the present moment, it’s easier to complete the immediate tasks on our plate. Instead of stressing out about future worries, concentrate on the present. In taking care of the present moment to the best of your ability, you’re also setting up a solid foundation for the future.