Ways to practice mindfulness


“It’s September!  Hard to believe that summer is wrapping up and we are headed towards a new season. September is often a busy time, getting back to school or back into familiar routines. For me, this season of busyness can also bring feelings of being unsettled, jumping from one idea or task to the next without much opportunity for mental quiet.

It’s in times like these that I revive my mindfulness practice.  The best way I can describe mindfulness is the ability to be present in the current moment, not thinking about the past or what just happened, or thinking about the future and my to-do list.  It is giving my attention to what I can feel in and around my body, hear, see, smell or even taste in this current moment.  Sometimes that also means noting discomfort or unpleasant feelings and sensations.  By bringing our attention to our current moment we are able to quiet the mind, at least briefly, and this can help activate our parasympathetic nervous system- the system that helps us rest, digest and repair our tissues.

There are many simple ways that you can try to build mindfulness into your day.  Below I’ve listed a few suggestions that may be accessible for you.

Going for a 5 minute walk outside.  I like to think about all the things I can feel: Can I feel the warmth of sunshine? Is there a breeze?  Can I feel my feet in contact with the pavement as I step? What is the temperature? What areas of my body feel tight as I’m walking, which ones feel looser? Additionally you can think about your other senses: What can I see around me? What can I hear?

Eating a meal.  What are the different colours present on my plate?  What can I smell?  What foods are hot or warm, which ones are cold?  What textures can I feel as I eat?  What can I taste?  How does this feel in my body as I enjoy my meal?

Sitting at my desk, feet flat on the floor, hands on my knees, eyes closed.  What can I feel in my body- are there areas that are feeling bad?  Where are the areas that feel good?  What can I feel around me- perhaps my back against the backrest, feet on the floor, temperature of the room?  What can I hear around me?

Even a couple of minutes of mindfulness built into your day can go a long way to quieting the mind and easing those unsettled feelings.