Recently, I was featured in Bustle Magazine sharing my ideas for cultivating a mindfulness practice in everyday life. I’ve copied and pasted the article below, but if you want to go to the original source, click here…
There’s been a lot of talk about mindfulness lately, and although you might know the importance of staying present and meditating, you might be wondering how to practice mindfulness throughout the day. According to therapists, there are a number of little things mindful people do differently, and knowing how to pick up on these same habits can hopefully help you find some more serenity and clarity in life. There are plenty of different ways to incorporate mindfulness into your life, and getting an idea of what others do can help you create some good habits of your own.
“Mindfulness is a scientiﬁc approach to acceptance and inner peace, extensively studied by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D.,” psychotherapist Dr. Linda Miles tells Bustle. “He deﬁnes mindfulness as ‘paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non- judgmentally.’ In short, mindfulness translates to an enriched awareness of the present. It’s as simple as rediscovering the blessing of freely breathing, the sensation of a caress or a kiss, the vastness of the universe.”
Miles notes that happiness is often a side-effect of mindfulness, which is a great reason to start incorporating it into your life. Here are nine little things mindful people do differently, according to therapists.
1.They Don’t Multitask
We often tend to think that multitasking is a great way to get multiple things done at once, but it turns out multitasking doesn’t exist — we are really just switching our attention back and forth, and it’s not good for our brain. “Perform one activity at a a time from beginning through the middle and to the end before beginning another,” therapist Heather Edwards, LMHC, BCC tells Bustle. “Truly engage with how you’re spending your energy.”
2They Stay Off Their Phones
Mindful people keep off technology when they’re involved in other activities or around other people. “Set your phone on silent mode or turn it off,” says Edwards. “Look around at your surroundings. Notice the details of anything that catches your eye. What colors, shapes, textures do you notice? Be curious about that object and wonder about it.”
3They Focus On The Positives
Everyone’s life contains both positives and negatives, but mindful people choose to focus on the positives. “Being focused on the negative is a normal human tendency,” clinical psychologist Inna Khazan, PhD tells Bustle. “It developed through evolution and has enabled human beings to survive as a species. However, this negativity bias is not very helpful nowadays, because it sharpens the focus on negative events and can prevent people from enjoying the positives.”
4They Pause Before Reacting
“When faced with difficult thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, or situations, they are better able to pause and choose a helpful response, rather than reacting automatically,” says Khazan. “We all have habitual automatic reactions to difficult events, but these are often not very helpful ways to respond.” Meditating can help strengthen this skill, as well as pausing and taking a few breaths before immediately reacting.
5.They Watch Their Thoughts
Being aware of your thought patterns, and when your mind drifts to negativity or stress is the heart of mindfulness. “Mindful people learn to notice when they are holding on to a negative thought toward themselves or others and find ways to refocus on on kindness and gratitude,” says Miles. “They notice that when the body holds on to that thought, tension increases because the stress chemicals adrenaline and cortisol are secreted. In contrast when the focus is on appreciation of gifts of the present moment, the body secretes dopamine and oxytocin, which are calming.”
6.They Pay Attention To The Breath
Focusing on breathing is a great way to bring yourself to the present moment. “Mindful people scan through their body during the day and notice when they are tense and holding their breath,” says Miles. “An example is to think the word ‘be’ on the in breath and ‘calm’ on the out breath.” This mantra can ground you in the now, and keep your mind from shifting to worries throughout the day.
7.They Engage In Self-Care
Mindful people make a point to take care of themselves when they feel something is off. “People who regularly practice mindfulness notice when they are becoming stressed and are able to intervene with purposeful self-care,” therapist Jessica Tappana MSW, LCSW tells Bustle. Whether that means a quick meditation session, or taking a walk to clear their head, those who practice mindfulness daily know how to check in, and re-center themselves when necessary.
8.They Focus On Being A Good Listener
Mindful people are better listeners. “Through practicing mindfulness, you increase your ability to pay attention to what another person is saying,” says Tappana. “Through learning to focus your attention, you will be able to stay present when another person is talking, and your friends and family will be able to tell the difference.”
9.They Wake Up Slowly
Rather than rushing out of bed, mindful people take the time to observe how they feel. “When you wake up in the morning, simply stretch your limbs and torso before you hop out of bed,” says Edwards. “Really feel the support and comfort of your bed and blankets. Tune into those sensations for a moment.”
It takes constant effort, but by learning from these habits of mindful people, you can improve your mental health and even your relationships.