I struggle with mindfulness. I’m the type of person that gets stressed out and then goes on autopilot just to get through the day. Mindfulness is pretty much the opposite of that. When we are stressed out, anxious, sad, irritated, or angry, we want those feelings to disappear.
It’s hard to sit with those feelings and emotions. I put on a k-drama, zone out, and go to my happy place. There’s nothing wrong with that but there are also times when we need to feel our feelings instead of ignoring them.
That’s where mindfulness comes in.
Mindful Activities You Can Do
Mindfulness is the practice of being present and of allowing your emotions to just be without judgment. Instead of ignoring your feelings or pushing them away – you allow them to co-exist with you. Here are some activities you can do to immerse yourself in the moment and focus on being present.
You’d think driving would be one of the ultimate zoning out activities. Put on your favorite playlist and sing your heart out until all your problems fade into the background.
Driving can also be an exercise in mindfulness. Turn off the music and focus on the weight of the vehicle, the touch of the road you are driving on, the seats’ shapes and texture, and the sound of the tires against the gravel. Try to shift your focus to scan the environment and be aware of the lights, pedestrians, other cars, terrain, skyline, and vegetation.
Just allow yourself to exist as you drive. And focus a bit on your breathing. Take long and slow breaths and notice the sounds of the inhale and exhale.
(Side note: Therapy/ Group therapy is a great place to learn mindfulness and a ton of other coping skills!)
Find a quiet place to take a walk. There’s a park by my house that has the perfect walking path. When walking, try to concentrate on the experience of walking, being mindful of the feeling of standing, and simple actions that keep you stable. When you get to the end of the path, turn back and keep walking, observing the awareness of your feelings, the breeze, the warmth of the sun, the sounds of nature or cars, again – experience being present.
With your feet flat on the floor and your back straight, sit down and place your hands on your lap. After sitting, start inhaling through your nose, paying close attention to your breathing. If anything interrupts your meditation, take notes of it and get your focus back to breathing.
The body scan
The body scan is another mindfulness activity that you can try. (I do this before I go to sleep) Lay down on your back with your legs stretched and your arms resting on your sides with your palms up. Then concentrate on your body slowly and intentionally, in an orderly manner from your toe to head and head to toe. Make sure that you are aware of the feelings, emotions, and thoughts connected with every part of your body.
This is a way to turn something you love doing into a mindfulness activity. You can make your mealtime more mindful by incorporating mindful activities like eating food with your non-dominant hand, eating the first few minutes of your meal in silence, concentrating on the aromas, flavors, and food texture, and lastly, turning off the tv while you eat.
This also can play into intuitive eating, which honors how your body feels and what it wants.
Mindfulness practices can involve anything you do in your daily life. I have random moments of mindfulness like when my partner laughs and I just take in the feelings of love and appreciate every sound. Or when I’m cuddling my favorite cat and I feel him purring and the softness of his fur. Those moments are perfect so its easy to stop and savor them but we can also create them. Mindfulness is a path to self-discovery, calm, and emotion regulation.