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Cultivating Mindfulness In Daily Life

buddha meditating

Most of us don’t have the opportunity to sit on the meditation cushion all day long. We maybe meditate in the morning or in the evening, but then have to attend to daily tasks all day. Although practice in the morning or evening is beneficial, we can find a way to bring our mindfulness practice to our everyday life.

There are many ways we can practice mindfulness during our days, bring ourselves to the present moment as we carry out daily tasks, and practice meditation at work. We first need to look at bringing our minds back to the present moment, and then consider where we ca rest our awareness in order to stay present.

Returning to the Present

First, we need to find a way to bring the mind back to the present when it wanders off. We all do this every day. We fall into autopilot, often driven by stress or wanting to get things done. We focus on finishing tasks and moving forward, often forgetting to be where we are. Although goals and intentions can be helpful, we also can benefit from being present.

One of the best things you can do to bring yourself back to the present moment is use an awareness trigger. An awareness or mindfulness trigger is something we use during our day to bring ourselves back to the present moment. It can be anything really. Some common mindfulness triggers people use are:

  • The sound of a phone ringing or vibrating
  • An alarm clock
  • Hearing an animal
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Drinking water
  • Sending an email

When we think of finding some spirituality in recovery, brushing your teeth may not come to mind. However, these moments can serve as powerful reminders to return to where you are.

Start by picking just one for the day. Whenever this event happens, use it as a reminder to return to the present. When you go to brush your teeth, do so mindfully. When you hear a phone ringing, pause and take a few breaths before answering. Instead of doing everything on autopilot, use this event as an opportunity to be present and where we are.

Practices for Being Here Now

There are many ways we can “be present,” and we need to find which way works for us. We can rest in the body, mind, or any other experience. Let’s start with the breath. The breath is a great place to rest our awareness as it is always with us. You can try a more formal breath meditation practice to familiarize yourself with the breath.

During your day, when your awareness trigger pops up, you can just return to the breath and be present with it. You don’t need to breathe in any specific way; just let the body breathe itself. Tune into the experience of breathing in the chest, abdomen, or at the nostrils. Just feel how it feels to breathe. See if you can be with the breath from the beginning of the inhale through the end of the exhale.

You can also try a body scan practice any time during your day. Below is a practice from Tara B. that we love for investigating the body through mindfulness. During your day, you can pause and scan through the body to see what is going on. Just move through slowly from head to toe to notice points of pain, tension, ease, and anything else is present.

You can also try a mindfulness of the mind practice. Mindfulness is an important practice, and we often think it means not thinking. Especially if we’re new to practice, it can seem hard to meditate if the mind is running. However, mindfulness is part of the Eightfold Path in Buddhism, and this includes mindfulness of the mind.

We can bring mindfulness to where the mind is at. Start with the general mental state. Is the mind calm, agitated, anxious, or dull? This isn’t to judge as good or bad, but just to notice where we are at. As we familiarize ourselves with the mind and experience, we can respond to it with more compassion and care rather than the knee-jerk reaction.

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