When I ask people “what’s one thing that would help you bring more mindfulness into your life?”, the most common answer (by a long shot) is… TIME.
I need more time – more “me” time!
I hear you, I really do. Life is so damn full it might just burst. It feels like there’s simply no let up. No space between one to-do and the next, between all the should do’s, the must do’s, the rushing and the juggling. You need a break. But I’m sure you knew that already.
The bloody brilliant news is that you don’t need a fancy-pants retreat to rest, regroup and refocus. All you need to do, is learn how to take quick mental breaks and start doing so regularly. Go on, give it a whirl! You’ll only truly ‘get’ the benefits of mindfulness by experiencing it first hand. OK, here we go…
Two minute breathing break
Close your eyes and bring your attention to the part of your body where you feel your breath most prominently (nostrils, chest or belly). Hold your attention here and think “I’m inhaling” as you inhale and “I’m exhaling” as you exhale. Go ahead and do that for two breaths now.
OK, now try counting to 10 by thinking “inhale one, exhale one, inhale two, exhale two” and so on until 10. When you notice your mind has wandered (which it will, a lot!), simply smile, refocus on your breath and pick up counting where you left off. Give that a go.
How did that feel? For me it really does provide the most restful sensation. When I sink into my senses and focus on what’s happening right now, I picture my hard-working mind relaxing with her feet up, sipping on a well-deserved cup of tea.
Two minute mindful moment
Another way to sneak in a bit more mindfulness is to bring single-minded focus to a particular activity each day. You might choose brushing your teeth, emptying the dishwasher or driving (a damn good one to be present for! How many times have you arrived somewhere and not necessarily remembered every corner? Shit, me too!)
Whichever activity you decide on, focus solely on that task as you do it. Sink into your senses and simply observe what’s happening without judging anything as good or bad, or right or wrong. What can you see, smell, hear, taste and feel?
As with the breathing exercise, when your mind starts to wander off like a curious puppy, kindly and gently bring it back to the task at hand. Again and again and again. Because failure = success! Everyone wins.
Keep it real – and regular
Finally, the most important thing with mindfulness is not how long you practice for, but that you practice regularly. Three two-minute breaks each day works wonders for me.
It does take time and commitment to change a lifetime of living in your head. Starting out I would get so completely sidetracked by everyday life that I’d forget to practice altogether. Ironically it was technology to the rescue – a handy mindfulness app now reminds me first thing in the morning, mid-morning and then mid-evening. Like one of Pavlov’s dogs, the tone alone makes me physically relax and smile, my busy mind stoked to be momentarily relieved from active duty!
Over to you
So you see, time really isn’t an issue – everyone can find six minutes. And I bet that after even just a week of doing so, you’ll start to feel a sense of calm, ease and space begin to creep into your days.
There’s nothing like a bit of public accountability to keep you on track and motivated, so leave a comment below when you’ve set your daily reminders and let me know which activity you’re committing to carry out mindfully this month. I’m going for brewing my morning cuppa.
With love, your retired over-thinker, Kelly x
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If you want to manage your stress response, wrangle your internal critic & take micro-holidays everyday without leaving home, grab a copy of Cultivating Calm: Mindfulness for Mums (it’s a short read for us time-poor motherly types). Grab your copy here.