We hear about mindfulness all the time. Enough to know by now, that in theory at least, mindfulness is a good thing and we need more of it in our lives. But putting it into practice can be a confusion experience. How do we know if we’re being mindful or not? How can we incorporate mindfulness into our lives without feeling like we’re jumping through hoops, thus, adding more to our loads and maybe even having the reverse effect? We don’t want our mindfulness journeys to stress us out! And when we’re pregnant or postpartum, we have enough on our brains. Isn’t adding in the pressure to “be more mindful” just that: more pressure? Maybe not. Because mindfulness doesn’t have to be stressful, time-consuming, or even that challenging to add into our lives. You can start small and do what’s convenient for you. In fact, the best mindfulness practices happen when you’re choosing what works for your life.
If you don’t know where to begin or feel lost or overwhelmed at the idea of being more mindful, here are a few tips to get you started on some healthy habits.
1) Practice being present
Being present doesn’t mean sitting in meditation for hours of the day. It can simply mean not allowing all of your thoughts, tasks and stresses to get the best of you. Being present means letting go of what’s next and focusing on the here and now. Doing exactly what you’re doing and not worrying about everything else.
2) Stop judging
3) Recognize when you aren’t being mindful
Recognizing how to be mindful is sometimes easier when we begin with recognizing how not to be. What does it look and feel like when you aren’t being mindful? Are you rushed, stressed out, moving quickly from one task to the next without stopping to think or even catch your breath? Recognize what it feels like when you are unfocused and off-kilter. Then, slow down. Acknowledge your negative thought patterns, and let them go. Observing how it feels when you are whipping through life, out of sync with yourself, creates an opportunity for change.
4) Tune into your breath
One of the simplest ways to slow down is to start by focusing on your breath. That’s right. For 60 seconds, just breathe. One breath in, one breath out. Notice the rise and fall of your belly. Notice how the muscles in your body, your jaw, your eyelids, all relax. Sometimes, being mindful happens in small doses. And sometimes as a mom, you only have a minute. So breathe and give thanks, even if it’s only for 60 seconds a few times a day. It’s the perfect way to tune in. And it’s something to build on.
5) Pay attention
The practice of slowing down and simply paying attention to your surroundings is a great way to engage with your life and thus, be more mindful. “Task mindfulness” is about taking a task that you do every day and using it as your reminder to breathe, observe, and tune in. Take washing the dishes for example. You can feel the warmth of the water on your hands, smell the soap, listen to the sounds the faucet makes. Take the opportunity to engage with all of your senses. Not only does it turn a mindless task into a mindful one, it also grants you the time to slow down while doing something you already do every day.
6) Introduce mindfulness to your kids
Sometimes being a teacher is the best way to learn. For mothers, helping your kids take opportunities to observe their surroundings and be mindful throughout the day, helps you to do the same. You may also find that by observing your kids, they are the most present people of all. When they are intrigued or interested in something, they rarely allow themselves to be pulled in different directions like adults do. As much as you teach your kids, allow them to teach you, as well.
These are just a few ways to help insert some mindfulness practices into your life. But when it comes to zenning your mind, there are tons of tools and unique ways to challenge yourself and keep growing. Visit Mindfulness.org to keep the personal growth coming in 2019.