It’s impossible to have escaped the conversation around mindfulness over the last few years. The many benefits of meditation have been widely researched and published — and everything from neural plasticity, to lower cortisol levels, longer life, better health and the ability to act with more kindness are apparently within your reach. But what if you don’t get on with meditation, or what if it’s too intense for you to sit inside your own head for extended periods of time? First off, you are not alone and second, don’t worry — here are 6 ways you can live more mindfully without meditating, and still reap the benefits. In fact, this might even be the shortcut that makes sense — people mediate in order that they can start to incorporate mindfulness into the things they do every day.
- Get outside. Put your phone on silent or leave it it at home and go for a walk. It doesn’t need to be a hike out in the countryside (though if you can that’s awesome) — London has loads of beautiful green spaces. Think about how you are moving, pay attention to the trees or whatever is going on around you — I guarantee you’ll feel good afterwards and science says just two hours a week outside significantly raises your self-reported health and well-being. You don’t even need to be walking around — just go sit on a bench and take a few deep breaths for 15 minutes. Plus sunlight helps keep your circadian rhythms stable, and melatonin production in good health — which means more alertness during the day, and a better night’s sleep.
2. Eat mindfully. Especially if you tend to eat watching TV, or whilst on the infinite scroll of Instagram — this one is for you :) Eating mindfully means no TV, no phone, no book, no magazines. So how do you do it? Take a minute to consider what’s on your plate, maybe where it comes from, and what you anticipate it’s going to taste like. Smell your food and note how much you want to eat what’s in front of you. Start eating, chew slowly and pay attention to the textures and tastes of the food. Compare notes if you are eating with someone — maybe you are having different experiences, or perhaps the conversation leads you to memories that the food brings to mind. 30 seconds before you start eating, and then a minute or two once you begin to eat can help increase the amount of pleasure you get from your food, and studies show that people who eat mindfully eat up much less during the day and lose weight at a faster rate than control groups. There are more tips here.
3. Box Breathing. This is a HUGE favourite of mine, and many of my clients self-report really positive results by incorporating this into their lives. The at-home version is ideally done in the rest and recuperation position, but the beauty of this exercise is that you can do it anywhere — at anytime. On the tube, in a meeting, walking to work — this can be your go-to stress manager that you can deploy whenever you need it. The more you do it, the more powerful it will be as a relax trigger for you. Box Breathing is used by military personnel to interrupt the stress reaction, and lead the body through a physical intervention that tells your body ‘everything is OK, you are safe and alert’ and if your body knows it’s safe, then guess what? Your mind follows.
4. Stop taking things personally. Most of what people do, is nothing to do with you. Whilst emotions are important to pay attention to, after all, they indicate how you are feeling, how you choose to react to a situation is entirely your choice. Next time a situation blows up, try noting and then releasing your emotional response, and taking a fresh look at what is actually going on, and where it comes from. To be clear, I am not saying be a pushover, but for example, the colleague who is distracted when you are talking to them might not be being disrespectful or rude, but instead might be facing something that is worrying them. If you remove yourself from the situation, what is actually going on?
5. Have more sex. There is a theory that one of the many reasons we enjoy sex so much is that the physical nature of it allows us to connect with ourselves and with others, and concentrate on moments in time, experiencing them fully. It’s definitely not the worst use of your time :)
6. Get a magical object. Not beans — magic beans aren’t real, silly. I can’t help but suspect most people’s lives would automatically improve if they could get off their phone more. Charlie Cadbury started Moment Pebble with this in mind, and created a beautiful talisman that people can carry around with them, and use regularly to stop and breath, check out the video below, or you can find out more here.
If you’d like a more involved conversation on why living mindfully is so important, do get in touch :) If you are interested in finding out more about coaching and what it can do for you then there are several ways to connect with me on my website https://www.evj.af