Mindfulness is the practice of being aware and present in each moment, allowing us to experience our thoughts and feelings without judgment or attachment. It’s a powerful way to become more peaceful, content and self-aware, without having to rely on miracle cures, supplements or anything, really, but our own minds. With daily mindfulness practice, we can become more attuned to our emotions, learn how to respond instead of react to situations, and even improve our physical health. Here are some of our favorite tips to develop one's own inner Zen master.
- Create moments of pause: Taking time throughout the day to pause, close your eyes and observe your breath can be an effective way to reduce stress and cultivate greater awareness. Even if you only have a few minutes between tasks or errands, this simple exercise can give you a sense of clarity for whatever comes next.
- Practice deep listening: Deep listening means paying attention without judgement or interruption; it’s about creating space for someone else by giving them your undivided attention. This could be during conversations with friends or family members — put away any distractions (phones!) so that you can truly listen deeply with an open heart and non-judgmental attitude.
- Notice your surroundings: Be present in the physical environment around you no matter where you are — on public transit, in line at the store or when out for a walk. Pay attention not only to what’s happening around you but also what’s happening within your body — notice changes in temperature, wind direction and other sensations as they arise in real-time. Take a walk around your neighborhood and ask yourself, how much of this have I never noticed?
- Get comfortable with silence: Making time for silent meditation may sound daunting at first but it can be incredibly rewarding once you settle into it — research has shown that even brief periods of silence can reduce stress hormones like cortisol while increasing positive feelings like satisfaction and self-acceptance. Find somewhere comfortable where you won't be disturbed for several minutes (or longer), close your eyes and allow yourself to experience pure stillness without any expectations of “doing it right” or being perfect at it from the start — just observe anything that arises within your mind without trying to change it or push too hard against it.
- Focus on one task at a time: Instead of multitasking multiple tasks at once, intentionally choose one thing at a time so that all of your attention is placed onto that specific activity — whether its washing dishes or taking an online class. Take this opportunity to observe how your body feels as it engages in the task, and note any feelings that come up during this process, without attempting to change those feelings. Then when finished give yourself permission for another break before moving on with whatever comes next.
By implementing these practices into everyday life we can begin to build greater awareness around our emotional states as well as our external environment, ultimately leading us towards more meaningful experiences both inside ourselves and amongst those we interact with on a regular basis. You just may start to find joy in the most unexpected of places and mental states.
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