8 Ways to Practice Mindfulness without Meditating
Updated: Oct 19, 2019
By: Nicole Bentley, LCSW
Phrases like “this month flew by” or “where is the time going?” are becoming all too common these days, and they are absolutely linked to the lack of time we take to slow down and be mindful. Mindfulness is essentially the practice of paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment, without judgment. A simple definition for a simple practice; but don’t get the wrong idea, regular mindfulness practice can have some serious positive effects such as improved concentration, energy and sleep as well as increased overall life satisfaction and reduced anxiety.
Mindfulness is most commonly practiced through some form of meditation such as breathing focused activities, focusing on a mantra or guided imagery. However, mindfulness can also be practiced in a more casual way and yield the same benefits. Below are 8 ways to practice mindfulness without meditating.
1. Mindful walking- Mindful walking is an opportunity to focus on the present moment-your feet on the ground, the wind on your face, or the sounds you are hearing- without any judgment. When your mind wanders, simply notice that your mind has wandered and gently return your attention back to your walk.
2. Mindfulness in the shower- Being in the shower provides a strong opportunity to connect with your senses. Try focusing your attention on the smell of your shampoo, the lather of your body wash, or the temperature of the water. Connecting with our senses is a wonderful way to practice being mindful.
3. Mindful eating- Create an opportunity to slow down and enjoy a meal once in a while! When practicing mindful eating, focus on the smell, taste, colors and texture of your food. Notice how each bite might be different from the last, and challenge yourself to really taste each element of the dish. Eating upright at a table away from distractions such as television or your phone can also help you focus all your attention on savoring your meal.
4. Listen to music mindfully - When listening to music, try picking out one instrument and following it throughout the song, or try repeating the lyrics to really absorb them. Again, if your mind wanders that’s okay, just notice those thoughts, and bring your attention back to the song.
5. Observe and describe your surroundings- Simply practice observing and describing your surroundings, whatever they might be. One great way to practice is while waiting in a doctor’s office or waiting room, because often there can be a lot to see. Go ahead and practice keeping your descriptions non-judgmental as you are observing what’s around you.
6. Mindful participation in an activity - Any activity can be done mindfully. Coloring, cooking, washing dishes, folding laundry and playing solitaire are all examples of activities that you can practicing focusing your full attention on. Being intentional with mindfulness is the key, because we know that all of the above activities can be completed mindlessly as well.
7. Choose a color- Wherever you are, choose a color to focus on and find that color as many times as you can. This is a great activity for your commute home (if you take public transportation), or while waiting for an appointment. Once you are done with one color, simply move on to another.
8. Progressive Muscle Relaxation- Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) involves focusing on each muscle group of your body, tensing those muscles for a few seconds, and then relaxing those muscles while noticing the sensation as you release. Once you have finished each muscle group, you will likely feel relaxed and more present with your body.
Remember, practicing mindfulness might feel unfamiliar initially, but think of it as mental exercise with each practice leading to a strengthened “attention mental muscle”.