I used to think all mindfuless entailed was sitting down and meditating, but there is more to mindfulness than just meditation. Informal mindfulness is one of my favorite ways to practice mindfulness because I can fit seamlessly into my daily routine. Informal mindfulness involves bringing mindfulness into your everyday life. These practices, although small, change the way in which we approach our daily interactions with the world around us. This helps us remain present. Pretty much everything you do on a daily basis can be done mindfully.
Here are a few of my favorite informal mindfulness practices:
Drinking Coffee: Every morning I sit outside and drink my coffee. Now that weather is cooler, it has been nice way to start my day. I love being able to take a few (15-30) minutes every morning to enjoy the sun, listen to the birds, and watch the clouds pass through the sky. I see neighbors walking their dogs, cars driving by and students walking into school. I watch the ants as they crawl by and leaves as they fall from the tress. I feel a sense of calm just thinking back to that moment!
Walking: Strangely enough for the majority of my life, I did not like walking. I mean, I was okay with it as a form of transportation, but as a former track and field athlete, I loved running! It was my thing, it was efficient, and I loved the feeling after completing a run, no matter how long or short. Now, I am the queen of walking! There are days I walk just to connect with the world me. I don’t listen to an audiobook. I don’t take pictures. I just walk. On those days, I make a goal of paying attention to something new each time I walk. Last night, I saw the most incredible front door. It was a massive wooden door with intricate carvings. During my walks I also check in with my body. I notice the moment my foot comes in contact with the earth, the pressure as the weight shifts to the balls of my feet, the crunching of leaves underneath my shoes. There is always more to see. Always more to experience. If you are up for it, share what you discover on your next walk!
Eating: This is a big one! Have you ever taken a bite that was so magnificently wonderful that you wanted it to savor every single moment of the experience (or just shove it all in your face immediately?)! I have felt both ways! Mindful eating allows you to observe how the food we put into our bodies makes us feel, how it tastes, and how full it makes us (or doesn’t make us). This is a judgment-free exercise that helps us understand what is true for us. I love mindfully eating both vegetables and sweets. When I started paying more attention to the food I ate, I began to discover sweetness in unexpected places, like carrots. Cooked carrots taste surprisingly sweet to me, and it is something that I never noticed before. I also like to mindfully eat treats like sweet potato pie (I am on team sweet potato all the way!! Sweet potato pie >pumpkin pie). I LOVE sweet potato pie so much that I could (do) eat an entire pie by myself. But instead of eating it in one sitting, I savor it! I smell the sweetness of potatoes. I look forward to the first moment the pie comes in contact with my tongue. I relish the flaky crust. It is all so perfectly delicious and by taking my time I enjoy it more which is a pretty big deal, because I truly love sweet potato pie. Give mindful eating a try and let me know what you think!
Doing the Dishes: Household chores aren’t really my thing, but they are a part of life. Instead of paying attention less and trying to make my dishes magically unload themselves, I make an effort to pay more attention to the task.I don’t plan my day or watch TV anymore while doing my dishes, choosing instead to fully immerse myself in that experience of doing dishes. I feel the water on my hands, listen to the silverware as it clinks, the intentionally place each item it’s home in the dishwasher. It is a not requirement to enjoy everything that we do each day, I still do not enjoy unloading my dishwasher and I probably never will, and that is okay.
In reality, just about everything you do in your daily life can be done mindfully. You can mindfully walk up the stairs, mindfully make your bed in the morning, mindfully do your other chores, or mindfully spend time with your kids. It doesn’t matter what you do, but how can you do it with intention. Remember, there is no wrong way to be mindful! How many ways can you find to incorporate informal mindfulness into your daily life? And if you already practice informal mindfulness, what practices resonate most with you?