The importance of being mindful hit me one day on a walk. There I was, surrounded by trees and flowers and birds—wait. What birds? I could see them, but I couldn’t hear them. I was listening to a podcast on my earbuds and had everything else blocked out. Right then I made a simple adjustment: I took out one of the earbuds. Now I could listen to my podcast and be in the moment. I heard the birds. I heard children playing. I heard the car driving up behind me!
Mindfulness goes beyond meditation. We can be more mindful by doing some really simple, practical things that pull us back into the moment. If meditation isn’t for you, have you considered one of these 4 ideas?
Remove the physical barriers.
My earbuds are an example of a physical barrier. If we’re cocooned away from the world, we can’t be mindful of what’s really going on around us. So take down the physical barriers. If our kids are in the room, let’s release our grips on our phones. If we’re listening to music on Airpods or earbuds, remove them when we want to be mindful of what’s going on around us.
When I feel myself getting too into my head with worries or distractions that have nothing to do with the present, I wiggle my toes. That physical motion grounds me and brings me back into the moment. So when you find your mind racing to the point that you’re living in the past or the future, do something physical: clap your hands, stand up and stretch, or run your fingers across a table or countertop.
Choose a key word.
Come up with a word that will bring you back into the now. When you realize you’re not being mindful, say the word in your head or out loud. It can be any word you choose. Maybe you want a word to evoke peace, so choose a word like calm or tranquility. Or, if a random word will snap you back to the now, try something like, popcorn, snowshoe, or pebble. If you want to put some meaning behind the word you choose, make it your child’s name, your honeymoon spot, or your grandmother’s name.
Take the grounding power of being physical to a higher level; connect to those around you with a hug, a kiss on the cheek, or a squeeze of the arm. If you can’t connect in person, talk to someone—actually call someone and hear his or her voice. Is texting more comfortable for you? Then text. If you can’t reach anyone, write a letter, draw a picture (you don’t have to share it), write a poem (you don’t have to share this either!). The goal is to make yourself mindful by using the thought of someone else to anchor you in the moment.
How do you work on being mindful?