In my last post, What Is A Mindfulness Practice, I shared that meditation and mindful awareness are two parts of a mindfulness practice. And I shared some tips to help you get started with daily meditations.
In today’s post we’ll explore mindful awareness. Like meditation, mindful awareness takes practice — but instead of picking one time during the day, as you would to meditate, you can be more mindfully aware of the present moment throughout the many moments of your day. So how do we go about being more mindful in our daily lives and why would we want to do that?
Practicing daily meditation and mindful awareness will help you focus your attention with greater ease and it will deepen your connection with yourself and others.
When you’re more present in your daily life, you get out of your head and away from all the stories, worries, planning and judging that happen mindlessly. You intentionally place your focus on the sensory stimuli in the moment. Here are some examples:
- Listening with your full attention when someone speaks to you.
- Tuning into the feel of the water and soap on your hands as you wash them.
- Looking intentionally at the leaves, or flowers or cars as you take a walk or drive.
Here are a few ways to get you started with your own mindful awareness practice:
Pay mindful attention to one activity a day.
You can choose to focus on any one activity, but I’ll use washing your hands as an example. As the water runs from the faucet into the sink, listen to the sound it makes and watch how it flows. As you slowly put your hand under the water, notice how the patterns change and feel the warmth on your skin. Curiously move your hand in and out of the water, noticing the temperature change and the feel of the water. As you add soap, notice the feeling as you lather it; breathe deeply, pulling the scent of the soap into your nose. Feel the lather between your fingers and watch it flow down the drain as your rinse your hands. Feel the coldness of the taps as you turn off the water. Pay attention to the roughness of the towel and the sound it makes as you dry your hands.
You can do this with any activity you choose and, although it took me a paragraph to write it out, the exercise will take you only a few minutes to complete.
Below, I've included a mindful awareness walk in the recording below. It's downloadable so you can listen while you walk!
When conversing, listen with your full attention to whomever you’re talking with.
Put down your phone or iPad. Mute the TV or computer. Put work aside and give your full attention to the person who is talking to you. If your mind begins to drift, bring it back to the conversation. Notice your reaction in the moment. Are you anxious that you’ll miss something on your phone? Do your eyes wander back to the TV or computer? Or do you feel more connected to the person who’s talking to you? If you’re face-to-face, notice the person’s expression or movements while he or she is talking. If you’re on the phone, pay attention to the rise and fall of her voice and his speech patterns.
These are just a few example of mindful awareness. You can bring your attention to any activity that you do automatically each day. As you continue to practice, you might notice that you automatically take moments to be fully aware in your day.
Do you bring mindful awareness to activities during your day? I’d love to know your practices. Please leave your comments below on how you’re bringing more mindfulness into your life.
Elizabeth Cush, LCPC is a therapist and the owner of Progression Counseling in Annapolis, Md. She helps busy, overwhelmed men and women manage their anxiety and stress so they can live their lives with more ease, contentment and purpose. If you'd like to know more about how individual and group therapy can help ease anxiety and stress call me 410-340-8469.