Mindful May: Practicing Mindfulness
Last week, we wrote about Tips and Tricks to Reduce Anxiety. To further guide you in finding peace during uncertain times, we decided to focus on Mindfulness this month. During the month of May, we will share mindfulness tips and quotes on our Instagram to remind us all to stay present and find inner peace.
Mindfulness has been key to keeping me focused on work and marathon training after my Summer marathon was canceled. Initially, I felt lost. I no longer had the motivation to train because I kept searching for goals beyond the present. After coming to terms with my overreaching, I decided I needed to be more present and focus on my daily goals, and being the best version of me today.
Practicing mindfulness is easier said than done. You cannot simply achieve it the moment you decide you want to be mindful. Just like training for a race, it is something you practice. Since we have to start somewhere, we will start with a new wake up routine: Breathing.
I've been guilty of pushing the limits to my alarm. Next thing you know, I am jumping out of bed, rushing to make the bed and get ready.
Rather than sleeping until the moment you absolutely need to jump and scramble, set your alarm 1 minute earlier than you normally wake (yes, just one minute!). Take this moment as the opportunity to set your intentions and lead a calm and present-day with Hand-on-heart Breathing.
As you lay in bed, place both hands over your heart. As you inhale, feel your chest expanding and as you exhale, feel it deflate. With each breath, your hands will move softly up and down. Pay attention to this movement and if your mind wanders, do not fret, just gently bring it back to the movement.
After a minute of practicing breathing, gently raise and begin preparing for your day ahead. Rather than grab your phone and check what you missed, do your morning routine without the distraction.
Another beginner practice is mindful eating and drinking. You could begin practicing mindfulness while you break-fast with a refreshing morning beverage. I love my morning coffee, but I've committed to putting the coffee aside for the breakfast meal and starting my morning with fresh-squeezed lemon water. While drinking my beverage, I like to feel the water running through my throat and chest. I imagine the lemon water moistening my organs after a long night of rest. I find comfort in knowing the first thing entering my body is something that is not only pure and refreshing but also alkalizing.
Beginning with mindfulness while drinking lemon water, is a great way to introduce mindful eating, the practice where you keep your mind present on the food before you and imagine how each part of your meal will nourish your body.
Reconnect with Your Senses
Make a point in the middle of your day to reconnect with your body, especially if you notice you are distancing from the present. When my mind starts to go far ahead and I begin to feel anxious about the future, I pause and choose a sense to focus on. I like to call this the Senses Game. Choose a sense you want to focus on, ideally sight, hearing, and feeling. Ask yourself what are 5 things you can see, 5 things you can hear, or 5 things you can feel. This simple game will easily bring you back to the present and calm you down.
I have become big on journaling. I use several different journals to help me stay on track and remain present. In the last post, I briefly touched on bullet journaling - which is great for habit-forming and tracking your overall day. Another great method for journaling is keeping a Gratitude Journal.
I find the best time to write in my Gratitude Journal is before bed, where I can lay down and take inventory of the day before I put it behind me. After taking inventory, I start with 5 things I am grateful for today. Once I finish taking inventory of the day, I write 5 things I am grateful for in my life. Over time, you will notice you will have more things to be grateful for and the list will become longer!