Our minds are with us every moment of every day. Even when we’re still, our minds race around sorting, organizing, judging, labeling, grasping, and averting. Our minds are constantly in motion and for good reason — we need to evaluate our surroundings in order to make decisions and navigate our world. Most of the time, our minds race from one thought to the next so quickly, and we’re so habituated to follow those thoughts, that we rarely take note of what our minds are up to. Mindfulness is a huge buzz word that has deep roots in Eastern philosophy. Mindfulness is the practice of observing our thoughts as they arise without any judgement, criticism or latching on, and simply letting those thoughts pass by like clouds against a clear blue sky.
At Noom, we believe mindfulness is one of the key components of living a truly healthy lifestyle.
Here are 5 tips to cultivate mindfulness in order to be more present in our everyday lives:
Mindfulness tip #1: Meditate
The most powerful way to become more mindful everyday is to practice observing our thoughts when we aren’t caught up in our day to day stimuli and tasks. Setting aside time on a routine basis whether it be daily, bi-weekly or weekly to simply sit in a relaxed posture and focus on our breath, a mantra/phrase or counting up to 5 continually and letting those thoughts pass without clinging onto them is the best way to practice mindfulness. When we devote time to meditation we become more aware of our thoughts throughout the day and we start to see that every moment is part of a mindfulness practice and can be a meditation.
Mindfulness tip #2: Start by making one habit a mindful habit
Because we’re so habituated to letting our minds wander off wherever they want to go and following them, it can be a huge challenge to shift that habit and take the reins. It can be helpful to pair specific times or activities with mindfulness practice. Some examples could be doing the dishes, brushing our teeth, chopping vegetables, walking the dog, exercising, etc. The beauty of being more mindful is that we can drop in anytime and take in the world around us in a more conscious way. It can be helpful to start small with one activity a day intentionally paired with mindfulness and increase from there!
Mindfulness tip #3: Focus on engaging one of your senses
Our minds are always taking in and interpreting what our senses are experiencing. We can use our senses to our advantage in this regard, allowing them to guide back to a more present state of being. Everyone is different in terms of what senses they are more aware of. For some, listening to each sound that’s happening around them helps them slow down and be in the moment. While for others it might be smells that trigger them to stop and tune into what’s happening in their minds, bringing their awareness out of the past or future and into the present.
Mindfulness tip #4: Set aside time for conscious breathing
The breath can act as a powerful tool to lift us out of the loops of our ever-racing minds and ground us back down into our bodies. When we let our minds loose, our breath often becomes very shallow and quick. If we key into our breath, lengthening each inhalation and exhalation and following the sensations we experience when breathing, we realize that the focus of our attention becomes this simple process. Breathing consciously helps us release tension in our bodies and minds. We tap into our human being and rather than our human doing.
Mindfulness tip #5: Practice labeling your emotions
Our emotions come into play when there is a certain thought that really slows down our attention and we perceive this thought on a more physical level. These thoughts might be the more uncomfortable ones or overly satisfying ones – the thoughts that we either hold onto or push away from. These emotionally triggering thoughts, because they are louder or more prominent in our minds, can be used as really wonderful opportunities to tune in and simply notice instead of getting caught up in the story we tell ourselves. Even though these emotionally triggering thoughts tend to be more uncomfortable, the more we notice them, the more we are able to change our patterns and deepen our self-acceptance. We can practice mindfulness by labeling our emotions as they arise. By giving the emotion a name, it helps us create some distance between ourselves and our emotions. We become more in control of the actions that result from strong emotions by allowing this space of awareness.
There are endless techniques and limitless moments in our lives to tune into our minds and be more conscious of our thoughts. Being more mindful is living our lives to the fullest because we aren’t caught in the past or wrapped up planning for the future. We aren’t grasping onto what feels good and avoiding what doesn’t. We are fully embracing the present experience and everything it presents.
If you’re looking to bring more mindfulness to your life and health habits, start your 14-day Noom trial today!