Mindfulness on the move: 7 tips for busy people

Mindfulness is defined as being able to focus your mind on the present moment. We use this capability to help us relax and concentrate while reducing our stress and anxiety. But it’s also about developing a new skill: the ability to live in the present and be less concerned about the past and the future.

Originally borrowed from Buddhist philosophy, mindfulness involves taking time out for a few minutes, becoming aware of the present, allowing us to tune into the moment, to our breathing, and therefore our very existence. By regularly practising mindfulness we help boost our levels of happiness and productivity. Studies show we sleep better and our psychological health benefits from the practice. (1)

However time means everything if you have a busy lifestyle. Working, commuting, preparing food, spending quality time with your family are all essential parts of the day, yet they leave us with little time to ourselves. They all conspire to take time out of the busy day, leaving us little time to relax and meditate.

Mindfulness would therefore appear — on the surface — to have no place in our fast-paced lifestyles. However the old Zen saying "You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you're too busy. Then you should sit for an hour" has built-in wisdom and teaches us the importance of making time for meditation and mindfulness in our life.

Indeed the importance of incorporating mindfulness has been shown to be a key factor in improving health and wellbeing by training us to perform tasks better and help improve memory. (2) Mindfulness has also been linked in scientific studies to helping to reduce chronic pain, improve sleep patterns, lower blood pressure, as well as helping alleviate depression and other severe psychological issues. (3)

Clearly slotting in mindfulness techniques during the day has great benefits. So here are some mindfulness practices “on the go” to keep you calm and focused, as well as improve your mental and physical health and lifestyle.

Make time for small mindfulness techniques in your day.

Chances are you may not have the time to sit for extended times in meditation during the day. Perhaps your boss won’t approve! However practising small, manageable mindful techniques throughout the day will keep you alert, mentally fit and focused. An example is finding a quiet place during lunch (or while travelling on a train to work) to focus on your breath and draw your attention to how you are breathing. Are they deep or shallow breaths? Fast or slow? Take time to stop and discover the moment. Practice these small techniques throughout the day, as many times as you can.

Learn to breathe

So much of meditation (and therefore mindfulness) surrounds the breath. If you have a busy life, chances are you’ll run into stressful situations throughout the day. Traffic jams, late night tending to newborns, work stress and more. However these can be alleviated to some extent by learning to breathe correctly and then focusing on the breath to bring you into the present moment. Catching the train or bus as an example, if it’s stuck and going nowhere, there’s nothing you can do except read, listen to music or stare out the window right? Wrong. This is a perfect place to stop and practice mindfulness. Become less aware of your surroundings by focusing on your breath or body, slowing down and relaxing. By doing so, you’ll become less aware of the stress around you (the slow commute to work and the stressed fellow passengers) and arrive in a relaxed, focused frame of mind.

Get into a mindful breathing routine

Everyday routine tasks can be opportunities for small, yet highly effective mindfulness techniques. For example, when you wash your face in the morning, focus on the feel of the water and soap as you apply it. Listen to the splashing of the water. Try to concentrate in this heightened way for around 30 seconds.

Get into the habit of taking ten mindful breaths at various points of the day. It may be when you’re having a shower, or before getting out of bed or while you’re waiting to pick the kids up at school. Enjoy this time to yourself, relax and take the time to live in the moment.

Get out and exercise

Change your routine to incorporate time with nature. Whether this is walking through the bush or just down to your local park. Slow down your walking pace to allow yourself to breathe and take in the surrounding sounds and beauty. Enjoy the present and let the stress of the day go.

Embedding mindfulness in your day

Mindfulness can also be practised while doing everyday chores and tasks. Hanging out the washing, walking to work, while waiting for appointments or at the end of work meetings. This time will let you focus on the present, and help re-invigorate you for the rest of the day.

Mindfulness with kids

Mindfulness with the kids

Try spending mindful time with your children. Focus on their conservations in the car, or at dinnertime, bathtime or bedtime. If they are old enough, teach them to practice the art of living in the moment! There is enough evidence to suggest that children who use mindfulness are able to better focus their attention on subjects and given tasks. (4)

Try keeping it simple and developing quiet times into small, yet effective mindfulness sessions. You may be surprised at the results!

Kiss the sky

The sky is a great focus for mindful thought. When you step outside the front door at the start of the day, take a moment to look up at it. Note whether it’s blue, clear or cloudy. Take time to note the change (if any) during the day. Use the sky as a focus for your quiet meditative practice as you walk for example, though always watch where you’re walking!

Becoming more mindful doesn’t mean changing your life habits. With practice, you can incorporate mindfulness techniques while commuting to work, feeding your baby or watching the kids play sport. The advantages are immense and as renowned meditation teacher, author and podcaster Sharon Salzburg has said: Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.

Are you a mindfulness practitioner who leads a busy lifestyle? What are your tips on how to incorporate mindfulness into your lifestyle? Please let us know in the comments section below, we’d love to hear from you.

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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