If you are like me aka “a busy mind”, meditation is difficult, especially without a guiding voice. Rather than getting frustrated with myself, I found these 6 ways to help anchor myself in the present moment. Hopefully some of them can be a more effective tool for your journey of mindfulness especially when you just starting.
1. Hiking in nature
This is my favorite activity. Hiking in nature alone or with someone who appreciates the quiet, gives me the most peace and calm without having to sit in a lotus position. When we consciously engage our senses hiking, it can calm and ground us—relaxing both mind and body—and it also deepens our connection to the natural world.
Often times, meditation makes me more anxious because I feel I’m not meditating right, but nature always has an immediate effect of calm and peace. Hiking in nature makes it much easier to find an anchor point and stay in the present moment. Spending time in nature has healing and restorative power. Many research studies show that being outdoors increases well-being, helps alleviate stress and anxiety, promotes creativity, assists with recovery from mental fatigue, helps restore attention, boosts the brain’s ability to think, and engages the senses. Look up a David Strayer's research on the 3-day effect of being in nature which indicates that after just three days the brain tends to become more focused.
If I consciously try to be mindful while in nature, without fail, I always find myself becoming one with my surroundings.
I will dedicate a separate blog to mindful hiking later, here are some other activities I find help me to be mindful too.
2. Pay attention to your body and senses
When you come home to your five senses (touch, taste, sound smell, and vision), you connect with your body, notice sensations happening in this very moment provides you with a mental break. Give yourself a moment to scan your body sensations you normally are not mindful off. Or, you may want to try a piece of fresh orange peel, a piece of mint , or a jasmine flower to stimulate your sensual awareness.
When you do your daily workout or when you stretch afterward, instead of thinking of what you’re going to do next, bring your full awareness to the sensations in your body. See if you can notice those sensations without judging them. Be aware of any tendency to label physical sensations as good, bad, painful or pleasant. Instead, try to adopt an attitude of interest and curiosity. It’s the ability to observe your experience without judging that’s central to mindfulness.
3. Be a food critic
Pretend to be a taste tester of the meal in front of you. Rather than rushing through meals or eating on the run, take time to sit down and savor the experience. Take in the visual aspects of your meal, notice how it smells, chew slowly and be aware of the range of and textures. Let the wine or beer flow through all parts of your mouth.You’ll not only appreciate your meal more but you’ll give your digestive system a helping hand. In my experience, eating mindfully helps you to know when you’re full and curbs mindless snacking so your waistline might thank you too.
4. Try to be more present to the people in your life
Whether they are your family members, friends, coworkers, or just a passerby, try to give them your full attention, remove the digital distractions and make eye contact with the person you’re talking to; ask questions and really listen for the answers without thinking how you should respond. Enjoy their joy and feel their pain without "solutionizing" or judging. I often catch myself trying to solve the problem instead of just being and listening.
5. Bring a sense of purpose to every day
Before running into the battles of daily life, step back for a moment and try to give yourself a reminder, a cue, or a moment of reflection about what REALLY matters. It helps me prioritize my values and can turn the smallest routines into opportunities for greater accomplishments.
6. Take a moment to reflect/write/take a photo
At the end of a day take pause to reflect; write down what you’ve accomplished; express your gratitude in words. Keep a journal or just write a few lines of mattered to you today. Take a picture of what inspires you.
In my experience, there are other powerful ways to experience mindfulness. Just because sitting-meditation doesn't work for all of us all of the time, don't give up. Try enjoying a meal mindfully amidst the outdoors and see if you can practice present-moment awareness for a few moments. The idiom "all roads lead to Rome" holds still true as we commit to trying different methods which will yield the same result.