1. FOCUS ON ONE TASK AT A TIME
Modern gurus can agree on one point and it is that multi-tasking does not work. Of course there are moments when you have no choice but to juggle. However, try to focus on one thing at a time. If you are having lunch, just have lunch. Do not attempt to eat a sandwich crouched over a computer or answering text messages. Focus on what you are doing and let the background noise stay where it belongs – in the background.
2. BE SLOW, BE DELIBERATE
Rushing is the original sin of modern life. Everything is just in time: we are out the door 3 minutes later than we should be; we walk into meetings still on the phone; pull into the driveway with just enough time to shuttle the kids into the living room and throw on the dinner. Where possible-step back. Carve out time for the tasks that are important. Be deliberate and contemplative. By not rushing, long-term you will achieve more. Try it – you will be amazed.
3. DO NOT TAKE AS MUCH ON
We like to pat ourselves on the back about our super-human productivity. High-soaring career, rewarding family life, a multitude of hobbies – we are so hard at work trying to be the best version of ourselves we can be, we do not notice how incredibly exhausted we are, all the time. Here is one simple solution. Do less. Leave blank spaces in your diary – at the weekend schedule an hour or two when you have absolutely nothing to do. How will you fill the free time? Who knows? Who cares? With nothing to distract or divert you will find you are fully inhabiting the moment.
4. STOP WORRYING ABOUT THE FUTURE: IT WILL TAKE CARE OF ITSELF
Are you the sort of person who is forever fretting about next week, next year, what you will be doing in a decade? These thoughts can have an enormous drain on your resources. Consciously set them aside: focus on where you are, what you are engaged in. This moment is yours: allow yourself to enjoy it.
5. SAVOUR EVERY MEAL
Eating used to be a ritual: a part of the day set aside for quietness and contemplation. Today, this is no longer the case; nowadays people rush through their mealtime like…..In fact, mealtimes are the perfect opportunity for mindfulness. Focus on your meal, the tastes, the textures. Savour the flavours and also the opportunity to shut out the world and its incessant …….hubbub.
6. TALK TO PEOPLE – REALLY TALK TO THEM
Often we are too caught up in thinking ahead to give due attention to the person in front of us. It is said there are three types of listening: 1. Waiting for a gap to give our view 2. Judgemental listening 3. Attentive listening. Don’t let your eyes glaze over. Consciously lend an ear to the person opposite; understand what they are saying, and what they may be trying to communicate with their tone and body language.
7. MEDITATE AS YOU GO
With the school run imminent obviously you do not have time to fold yourself into the lotus position and think about shafts of sunlight penetrating your soul. But you can practice mindfulness in other ways: such as while carrying out ‘boring’ tasks like cleaning, cooking, cutting the grass…you can be away in another world. Concentrate utterly on the task – live in the now and enjoy the benefits it brings.
8. DO NOTHING
Step outside the rough and tumble of the everyday for just five minutes. Listen to your thoughts, concentrate on your breathing. Let the silence – where ere you find it – wash over you, guiding your mind where it will.
9. MOVE YOUR BODY
Throughout the day, our muscles will contract as stressful situation is piled upon stressful situation. Over time, these physical blocks can cause emotional and physical distress. Take a moment several times each day to ‘reset’ your body, by breathing deeply, stretching and rolling your shoulders, shaking the stress out of your body. Mindfulness is, in part, learning to know our bodies better. By taking these physical timeouts, we are taking the first steps towards achieving that.
10. TAKE A WALK
If you are distressed or overwhelmed, a straightforward walk can work wonders. It will help you feel ‘grounded’; especially if you focus on the simple sensation of placing one foot on front of the other. If possible, avoid ear plugs. Listen to the sounds around you; the wind in the tress; the hum of traffic, the traffic, the squawk of birds. These sensations will help in anchoring you in the here and now.
Anxiety can build inside us, like steam in a pressure cooker. Eventually the stress requires release. Consider sharing with a friend; just verbally acknowledging your fears and worries can help put them in perspective and bring you back to the moment. Otherwise, you may sink deeper and deeper into distress, your fears rattling around your head until they are all you can hear.
12. BE COMPASSIONATE TOWARDS YOURSELF
We have all hear it: that voice in our heads telling us we are no good, that we are constantly letting ourselves and those around us down. Try not to be too harsh on yourself. Often it is the standards we set ourselves that we find hardest to live up to. Be kind and compassionate towards yourself – as much as you would towards someone else. Long-term this will make your life more rewarding and productive. Stewing in your perceived failure is no use to you.
Breathing focuses your body and helps anchor you in the now. Try to find somewhere relatively private to do it. You should inhale so deeply that, were a person sitting next to you, they would be able to hear it. Breathing steadies your attention, and helps in screening out needless distractions.
14. START OVER
Life can drag us down and become a dreary drama in which nothing feels new or different. With a little conscious effort, you can refresh the page. Very deliberately, turn off the autopilot in your brain. Learn to look anew at everyday things. Embrace the senses – be fully aware where you are and what you are doing. And remember, don’t live the same year 75 times, and call it a life….