How to bring mindfulness into the home

There are now many scientific studies that back anecdotal claims that the practice of mindfulness is of increasing importance to better mental and physical wellbeing. The American Psychological Association (APA) has found that mindfulness helps: improve mental health, reduce stress, boost memory capacity, allow better focus, better cognitive capacity as well as physical benefits such as improved immune response. (1)

But what is mindfulness exactly? How can it be identified? Jon Kabat-Zinn, author and founder of the highly-respected Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction plan has defined it as:

“...awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. It’s about knowing what is on your mind.” (2)

It means to be completely engaged — and aware — of the present moment and to observe your thoughts and reactions to whatever task you are engaged in, without judging these thoughts to be good or bad. While there are a number of ancient practices — now common in the West — that help to facilitate mindfulness; such as tai chi, yoga and other disciplines, the concept of mindfulness has been broadened to include self-discipline in thinking, which may be in meditation, but which also be a part of daily tasks such as exercise, cooking, relaxing and eating.

Introducing mindfulness into your life, and that of your family, is very beneficial for physical and mental health. You may then, have considered ways to be more mindful — living more in the present and becoming more aware — and thought of introducing ways to incorporate this into your lives. One of the best places to start is in your own home.

However it isn’t easy is it? Particularly when you work or have a young family to support and care for. But there are ways to do this by incorporating mindful techniques that won’t disrupt the family’s routine. Ways that more mindfulness in the home can be achieved, a few changes here and there, that will give you the headspace you and your family or housemates need to add more mindfulness into your lives.

Here are some suggestions to help make your home a happy, healthy and more mindful place that everyone can enjoy, without disturbing the household routine too much.

1. Set aside a “meditation” room or space

A spare room or a corner of a larger room may work for this, if your house is large enough. Having a stand alone meditation space room — as soundproof as possible — could act as an excellent private space for members of the household to take time out to think, relax and pay attention to the present to help reduce stress.

2. Make time for people

Getting your work/life balance is so important for a relaxed, happy, mindful life. Making time for people is also important, not just for family and friends. Taking the time to talk to your kids, helping them with their homework or being part of their play activities is a gratifying, healthy and mindful experience. Look to add as many of these “small moments” of chat and fun with your family, friends or housemates as you can during the day.

House Plants

3. Cooking

If you think you don’t have time to cook, think again. Making time for simple and wholesome recipes, instead of bringing back expensive and nutrient-poor takeaway food, can have a significant impact on awareness and relaxation in the kitchen. Not to mention the health benefits to you, your family and your housemates! Take the time to learn new styles of cooking and buy the freshest ingredients you can find. Then immerse yourself in cooking, discover the love of slow food, the taste, and the undoubted mindful satisfaction of passing on your knowledge to your family and friends. Seek out great cooks on the Internet or in books to learn new techniques and introduce food-based mindfulness in your home!

4. Add flowers and plants

While not a tool to increase mindfulness in the home by themselves, adding the right plants and flowers will help create a more happy and relaxing space. One that is more conducive to an atmosphere that will lend itself to an appreciation of nature, its colours and beauty.

5. Listen to everyone

Whether you live in a share house, or with your loved one and family, it is crucial to be able to get on with the people you share the home with. One of the key ways to introduce mindfulness is to be prepared to listen carefully to others. Take time to discuss their points of view, their opinions, their ways of thinking. You may discover new depths to your loved ones, housemates, significant others. By listening you create a calm, gentle atmosphere in the home, far more conducive to mindfulness and peace. However don’t forget it is always important that your views are considered respectfully by others and any disagreements are ironed out quickly before they cause disruption.

Going hand-in-hand with listening is being naturally curious about the lives of the people with whom you share your house. Whether it be school results, sport interests or just general interest in the lives of those you share your life with, encouraging people to talk about their lives will show you care and add to the calming atmosphere of your home.

6. End disagreements

If mindfulness is all about harmony in the home, arguments are the opposite, bringing resentment, anger and discord in the household. While there will always be differences in opinion between independent-minded folk, it is important that any issues between fellow members of the group are discussed in a civil fashion so that any acrimony disappears. Encourage politeness to enhance a relaxed atmosphere.

7. Introduce a space where all meals are shared

The old-fashioned kitchen or dining table is a sure winner when it comes to extending mindfulness in the home. Rather than everyone taking their prepared meals to their own rooms to watch TV or check the Internet, why not introduce a system where all meals are shared at one place? Not only will this support mindfulness but also encourage the household to talk to each other and perhaps rediscover the lost art of conversation! Time out to eat food together will also draw people out to share their activities during the day and discuss important issues.

Making your home more mindful is definitely a challenge, but one that has ample rewards. Being successful at this may be the difference between wanting to go home and dreading the thought! There is not much that can beat being able to practice meditation and mindfulness in your own home, a place where — with a few minor changes — you may find yourself more engaged in the present, and reducing your worry about future events and past circumstances.

Try some of these changes listed and let us know how you go. We’d also like to hear if you have any more techniques to improve mindfulness in the home that you’ve tried successfully.

Miranda Gray

Article by Miranda Gray

Miranda has had a background in the health and wellness industry for over twelve years, and is a co-founder of Aussie Health Products.

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