5 Ways I Included Mindfulness In My Life That Changed My Life Forever
Mindfulness is a term that seems pretty self-explanatory, however, most of us still struggle to lead a mindful life. Take this for example - does it not feel odd that we’re in 2023 already; like 2020 was just yesterday? Do you remember feeling this way when you were a kid, growing up - did you ever get the feeling that days are running away briskly? I guess the answer would be - NO. As we move into adulthood our lives become increasingly fast-paced with multiple things fighting for our attention at every given moment of time. Most of these activities are regimental and as such don’t contribute ‘new memories’ in our brains. So when we look back at the year we’ve had, it feels like we don’t have much to go by, that the year went fleeting past.
Now, we can’t really change the regiment of our days by much, so how do we hold on to time? There is an easy answer - being mindful. And there is that word again! But what does it mean and why is it important? Read on to know about my first-hand account of practicing mindfulness and the tangible benefits I’ve reaped by including this in my practice. My hope is that my experience will inspire you to adopt the practice and show you how easy it can be to lead a mindful, fulfilling life.
What is Mindfulness?
Plainly described, mindfulness is the “basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing and not be overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us”1.
Being mindful means acknowledging what you are feeling without judging the emotions or sensations as you’re feeling them. Mindfulness is an awareness of your internal state and surroundings.
Why Should You Practice Mindfulness?
As we deal with the world’s increasing complexity and uncertainty, practicing mindfulness can lead us to a more fulfilling and stress-free life. You don’t have to take this word on faith, it's evidence-backed. Both science and experience demonstrate the positive benefits of mindfulness for our health, happiness, work, and relationships.
Here are a few objective benefits that you stand to gain by practicing mindfulness:
- Reduce stress and increase productivity
- Gain a better understanding of self by being observant of your feelings and others’
- Learn to approach your experiences with kindness and warmth
- Handle conflict more effectively
- Improve your ability to focus & concentrate
- Lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties and improve sleep
How Can You Practice Mindfulness
When we practice mindfulness, we’re practicing the art of creating space for ourselves - space to think, space to breathe, space between ourselves and our reactions. The key to leading a mindful life is consistency. You need to intentionally keep making time for practicing mindfulness every day. But, before you attempt to make mindfulness a way of life, here is an easy practice to get you started.
Step 1: Sit Down. Find a comfortable position that makes you feel calm and relaxed.
Step 2: Define a time limit. As a beginner, you could start with a short time commitment, say 5-10 minutes, and gradually increase the time as you get more familiar with the practice.
Step 3: Bring Consciousness To Your Body. Notice how you are sitting - do you have your feet on the ground, or are you sitting cross legged on a chair? You can choose to sit any way that is comfortable and stable enough for you to stay in that position a while.
Step 4: Follow Your Breath. Feel the sensation of your breath as you inhale and exhale. Feel the coolness of the incoming breath and feel the warmth of the breath that leaves your nostrils.
Step 5: Notice when your mind has wandered. Surely, your attention will waiver and you’ll find yourself thinking of something else other than focusing on the sensation of your breath. When you do notice this, simply return your attention consciously back to your breath. It doesn’t matter how much time elapsed since you stopped focusing on your breath. What’s important is that you keep bringing your attention back.
Step 6: Be Gentle With Your Mind. Notice your thoughts without passing any judgements. Don’t obsess over the content of your thoughts. It’s not important what thoughts cross your mind, what’s important is to consciously bring your attention back to your practice.
And that’s it, a simple 6-step mindfulness practice that can go a long way in bringing tranquility and peace to your day. And remember, be Gentle with yourself!
Mindfulness As Part Of My Daily Routine
My experience with mindfulness has been ever-evolving and ever-changing. Throughout my life I have aimed to include mindfulness in a small but significant ways, choosing to live the often-overlooked moments in my day more intentionally.
Here are 5 ways I practice mindfulness in my day-to-day:
1. Mindful Mornings
How we spend our morning has a great impact on how our day will go. This makes it very important to start your morning on the right note. Over time, I have developed a very intentional two-step morning routine that works for me and my needs:
- As soon as I wake up, I focus on hydrating myself. I keep a bottle of water next to my bed so I don’t have to make an effort to do this step of my routine. I drink my water slowly and in small gulps. With every sip, I attempt to connect to how my body is feeling in that present moment.
- The moment my feet touch the floor for the first time, I take in a big breath of air. I also take this time to set an intention for the day. I find that by doing this I am able to tune my mind and body into a singular focus.
You do not need to follow this exact routine. You can create something that works for you. However, it is important to keep it uncomplicated, replicable, and not very time-consuming to set yourself up for success in building a routine.
2. Mindful Deep BreathingBreathing sustains life. The human body can survive 3 weeks without food, and 3 days without water, but only 3 minutes without air. Yet breathing is something we generally give very little thought to. Breathing properly can have a huge impact on our overall health and well-being and it can be used as a tool to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
Throughout my day, I bring consciousness to my breathing by taking a few moments to do the following exercise:
I inhale deeply from my nose on a count of 4, pause for a count of 2, and exhale through my mouth for a count of 6. I put one hand on my stomach and one hand on my chest. I repeat this 5 times in one go.
Deep breathing should be slow and gentle. Remember to fill the abdomen, not just the chest. This practice makes a big difference to how I handle whatever comes my way in a cool, calm, and collected manner without getting overwhelmed.
This exercise would not take more than a minute at once; so it's easy to do, really freshens you up, and acts as a great mood management tool.
3. Mindful Listening
Mindful listening means being present in a conversation in a way where the other person feels heard and acknowledged. Mindful listening can play an important role in your relationships with others. Here’s what I do to ensure that I am engaging in mindful listening:
- When I am talking to someone in person, I put my phone screen down so I’m not distracted by the notifications.
- At home, I don’t hold conversations with family with the TV playing in the background. It's important to give your full attention to even small conversations such as: “what to eat for dinner?”, “what should we do this weekend?”.
- I pay attention to not just the words but the body language of the other person. This helps me get a better grasp of what is being said.
- When I find my mind wandering when I am talking to someone, I acknowledge the thought that’s distracting me and then consciously bring my attention back to the conversation at hand.
Small things like this can create a huge impact on the way you relate to people and vice-versa. It can help you build and maintain meaningful relationships that would greatly affect your overall well-being.
4. Mindful Eating
I believe food is sacred as it literally becomes a part of you. And so, Mindful Eating can greatly impact your overall health and well-being. Mindful eating is becoming consciously aware of our eating experience. It is developing a present-moment awareness of the food and drinks you put into your body. It involves nonjudgmentally observing the physical and emotional senses to enjoy the food choices you make. This enables you to experience more gratitude for food; this also enhances your overall eating experience.
Here are a few things that I do:
- I set my meals around the same time each day, this helps give me enough time to enjoy a meal or snack.
- I chew my food slowly to fully experience it.
- I prioritize giving full attention to my food during meals. I focus on engaging all my senses by taking in the presentation, smelling the fragrance, noticing the texture, and appreciating the taste and flavor of the food.
- I say a little gratitude prayer in my mind honoring the food, thanking the food for its nourishment, and thanking the person who prepared it even if that person is me.
Of all the ways you exercise mindfulness in your day, this way has the most direct impact on your health and wellness. When we eat with a distracted mind we fail to notice the signals our bodies send us and end up overstuffing ourselves. In the long run, this habit can really take its toll on our metabolism.
5. Mindful Reading
Have you ever read a page or even a chapter from something, finished reading, or paused, then realized that you can’t recall much about what you had just read? I know this happens to all of us, so, reading is a major opportunity for being mindful. To be mindful while reading not only means to read with intent and purpose while savoring every word but also to understand the message behind those words. Mindful reading is more about the journey than the destination.
Here are a few things I do:
- Every day I make an intention list including things I will prioritize that day, in that list, I always include reading.
- I bring mindfulness to my reading by creating a calm, inviting environment where I won’t be disturbed while I read.
- I keep a bottle of water or any other beverage nearby to ensure that I don’t have to get up to meet my hydration needs.
- I prefer to read a physical book rather than an e-reader. The tactile feel of a physical book adds another sense to the overall experience of reading.
- I ask myself why I want to read this particular book. As I read, I take stock of my emotional reactions without judgment.
- I also look up the words I don’t understand without getting too caught up in the act of googling.
According to Psychology Today, “The experience of being immersed or engaged while reading a story is called narrative absorption and serves as more than an innately pleasurable experience—it can also enhance our sense of wellbeing. Researchers believe that mentally transporting ourselves away from our physical surroundings can provide an escape or opportunity for meaningful contemplation.”2
So here it is, 5 ways I include mindfulness as part of my lifestyle. Practicing mindfulness has greatly impacted my life and brought about plenty of positive changes in me. Mindfulness doesn’t shield you from the challenges life throws at you, but it does equip you to deal with those challenges with a collected frame of mind. Of all the ways I share here, feel free to pick what you like. Mindfulness is a greatly personal and intimate experience and as such, there is no one size fits all. All I urge is that you take a few minutes of your day and sit with your thoughts and your breath, and watch the magic unfold.
Hi, I am Disha Sharma!
I am a certified Happiness & Purpose life coach with more than 10 years of experience. I guide driven individuals to become their happiest and live a purpose-driven life. Fun fact - My name literally means Direction!
I want to dedicate my life to helping others. Through my 1-on-1 coaching, you will learn how to become in charge of your happiness, attain unshakeable self-confidence and gain the courage to finally take action toward your dreams!
Book a FREE Consultation with me to start your journey of self development today.