Mindfulness is awareness without judgement in the present moment, and something that is hard for a lot of people to practice. Being present can sometimes take discipline, to notice thoughts and redirect them, or to notice feelings and allow ourselves to move through them.
Mindfulness is important because it gives our brain a break from everyday life and allows us to focus on something other than our problems. Meditation has become mainstream in recent years, backed by a lot of research on health benefits, but it’s not for everyone. Some people can’t sit quietly with their thoughts. So what do you do instead?
There are many activities you can do instead of seated meditation if that isn’t your style. Mindfulness walks are my personal fave. It consists of walking at a medium pace, making your intention to focus on your breath, footsteps, the scenery and sounds around you. Being intentional about your movement, one foot after the other, feeling the ground beneath you and being silent. If a thought pops into your head, you just acknowledge it and let it float on by, redirecting your focus back to your senses. Research suggests that being in nature has a healing affect and boosts mood and alertness. I would say it does much more than that!
Music is another great form of mindfulness. Getting lost in a song, the way it makes you feel, the sound of the instruments, and how your body moves to the rhythm? If your mind starts to wander, you bring your focus back to the above.
Coffee and tea also offers us an exercise in mindfulness. Make it a ceremony for your soul. Recharge by selecting a beverage in the morning that brings you joy. Sit in a quiet place, take in the smell and taste, feel the hot liquid moving down your throat, close your eyes and just be in the joy of drinking your favorite morning drink. Breathe and enjoy the moment.
All of these things are alternatives to sitting meditation. Find the one that speaks to you in the moments where you need it. Mindfulness is great in that you can really find it anywhere, anytime. Just be intentional about what moves you and follow that direction. Practice focusing on the present moment and nothing else, and see the amazingness that unfolds when this becomes a habit.