Advertisement

How can I practice mindfulness in my everyday life?

UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center
Alternative & Complementary Medicine
Mindfulness can be practiced at any moment in the day. It involves bringing your attention to the present moment with curiosity and openness.
So let’s say you are caught in a big worry or anxiety about something that has not yet happened. Simply take a breath, notice your body in the present moment, such as your feet on the ground. You might even notice the feeling of anxiety in your body. As you do it, you prevent your mind from being lost in the future worries and you stay in the present moment, which can help reduce stress.
You can also bring a mindful attention to any activity that you do. You can mindfully eat your lunch, fully tasting your food. When your mind wanders off, bring it back to the sensations of eating.
You can even drive mindfully, noticing the sensations of your hands as they touch the wheel. Any moment is an opportunity to practice being present.
Edward Phillips
Physical Therapy
Often, mindfulness is taught through meditation focused on deep breathing, a phrase, or an image. A less formal approach permits you to practice mindfulness in any task or moment by following these three steps:
  • Begin with a few moments of breath focus and return to this periodically, staying aware of each inhalation and exhalation.
  • Proceed slowly and deliberately with your activity.
  • Savor every sensation, engaging all five senses fully.
Sheri Van Dijk
Psychiatry
Follow these instructions to practice mindfulness:
  1. Choose a focus: The first step is to decide how you will practice mindfulness. As you learn mindfulness and become more practiced with it, you will find that you are naturally living your life more mindfully. But for now, you need to deliberately choose what you will do mindfully. You can practice mindfulness in an infinite number of ways, because anything you do, you can bring mindfulness to -- breathing, watching television or reading a book, having a conversation with someone, driving, eating, walking -- the list is endless. So step one is to choose your activity.
  2. Pay attention: The second step is to bring your attention to your chosen focus. If you're walking mindfully, for example, you'll be paying attention to the feel of your feet as they hit the ground; perhaps you notice the wind against your face; you hear a dog barking; you observe the brightness of the sun and feel its warmth on your face. If you have chosen eating as your focus, you'll bring your full attention to that activity, noticing the smell of the food, its texture, how your body reacts in anticipation of tasting the food, and so on. Whatever your chosen focus is, bring your full attention to it in the present moment.
  3. Notice when you wander: The third step is to notice when your attention wanders from your focus. Notice that I say "when" your attention wanders, not "if"! It's inevitable that your attention will wander: our brains generate thousands of thoughts every day, so your attention will wander at some point. This doesn't mean you're doing it wrong; it simply means you're human!
  4. Nonjudgmentally return to your focus: Don't judge yourself for wandering, just notice that you've wandered and bring yourself back, redirecting your attention to your focus. This can be difficult, especially if you're someone who has a tendency to judge yourself; you might find you're judging yourself for not doing it "right," for example. Instead of falling back into that habit, see if you can simply take this as an opportunity to return your attention to the present moment and to the activity you were focusing on. Sometimes having a saying or mantra -- like "Oops, I've wandered" or "Back to the present" -- can help you avoid self-judgment.
  5. Repeat: The last step is to repeat steps three and four over and over again. In other words, notice when you wander and nonjudgmentally return to your focus.
Calming the Emotional Storm: Using Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills to Manage Your Emotions and Balance Your Life

More About this Book

Calming the Emotional Storm: Using Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills to Manage Your Emotions and Balance Your Life

When you have difficulties managing your emotions, it can feel like you’re losing control of your whole life. Anger, hurt, grief, worry, and other intense feelings can be overwhelming, and how you...
Ronald Siegel
Psychology
You can cultivate mindfulness informally by focusing your attention on your moment-to-moment sensations during everyday activities. This is done by single-tasking—doing one thing at a time and giving it your full attention. As you floss your teeth, pet the dog, or eat an apple, slow down the process and be fully present as it unfolds and involves all of your senses.

Continue Learning about Mind-Body Therapies

What is the importance of sweeping before energizing?
National Academy of Sports MedicineNational Academy of Sports Medicine
Before you energize it’s important to have an area that is clean the area both of dirt and debris an...
More Answers
How can I become an optimist?
HealthyWomenHealthyWomen
Pessimism and optimism are really just two ways of thinking about the same thing. Rather than trying...
More Answers
Can I Cure Myself Through Thought?
Can I Cure Myself Through Thought?
What Elements Make an Athlete Extra-Successful?
What Elements Make an Athlete Extra-Successful?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.