I have too many things to do today to try to fit in time for being mindful…

Maybe when things calm down a bit I can practice being mindful…

I can’t slow down… I have way too much to do already…

Mindfulness sounds like it could be helpful, but I just don’t have the time…

If you have spent any time researching mindfulness, you know that there are a multitude of benefits. Regular mindfulness practice:

  • Reduces feelings of depression, anxiety, anger, and confusion
  • Reduces pain and enhances the body’s immune system
  • Increases blood flow and lowers heart rate
  • Reduces stress
  • Improves social relationships with friends as well as strangers
  • Increases sense of calm and wholeness
  • Increases energy

If mindfulness is so great, why aren’t more people doing it?

Excellent question and one that I contemplate frequently. The short answer is that we think we are too busy to build in a regular habit of mindfulness practice. The truth is that we can if we know how. Setting aside time to meditate can seem like a huge barrier to getting started. How can I possible find an hour a day to sit on a mat or cushion when I have so many things to do? I won’t be able to relax because I’ll just be thinking about the other million and one things I could be doing right now… Sound familiar?

Let’s look at two basic questions that I get in regard to practicing mindfulness:

  1. How long should I meditate?
  2. How often should I meditate?

The answer to the first question is… as much as you think you can and want to achieve and believe is reasonable. If it’s five minutes twice a day or an hour once a day, doesn’t matter. The point is to start. When my clients tell me that they are too busy to practice mindfulness, I tell them to just start by pausing when they first wake up. I tell them to take just a few deep breaths and get reacquainted with their bodies. The idea is to start small and build up from there.

The answer to the second question is similar to the first… as often as you can. Once you have learned that core components of mindfulness, you can bring them with you to just about every activity that you accomplish during the day. After all, mindfulness simply means becoming immersed in the present experience and paying attention.

Start small and build from there.

Pick an everyday activity; it could be brushing your teeth, taking a shower, washing your face, folding the laundry, etc. Do it with your full attention and care. If it’s brushing your teeth, pay attention to the way the bristles feel as they caress your gums and tongue, the way it feels as the toothpaste begins to turn to foam. Notice the scent of the toothpaste; breathe deeply. Because it is a mundane task, you may once again notice that your mind has begun to wander, perhaps you start thinking about the rest of your day or daydreaming about an upcoming vacation (if only). Know that this is natural; simply notice where your mind has wandered and gently guide it back to the present moment.

Practicing mindfulness for as little as two minutes per day has been shown to have many benefits. It is my belief that once you start practicing it and seeing the benefits it has, especially on your mood and relationships, the more you will want to do it. Throughout writing this article, I have been practicing mindfulness- taking a breath and pausing between each sentence, feeling the keys under my fingertips. I can honestly say that mindfulness has changed my life, and that’s why I share it with my clients, my friends, and my family.