Mindfulness For The Time Poor

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How To Practice Mindfulness When You Don’t Have Time

BY KIM WOODWARD

We’ve all heard by now about the benefits of mindfulness. When it comes down to it it’s not so much why should we practice, but how. In the midst of our busy lives it’s hard to find the time. The good news is there are lots of ways to practice mindfulness, many of which don’t require you to find any extra time in your day.

Mindfulness can look like this...

Mindfulness can look like this…

Mindfulness just means being present in the here-and-now. It can be practiced any time you consciously bring your attention to the present moment and attend fully to your current experience. What this means is that the mundane tasks you perform on auto-pilot every day can provide an opportunity for you to practice mindfulness. For instance, you can practice mindfully washing the dishes, cooking dinner, or making the bed, or you can even practice while brushing your teeth, taking a shower or applying hand moisturiser.

it doesn't have to look like this.

it doesn’t have to look like this.

You may have noticed that when you perform everyday tasks, your mind wonders and you’re not really that focused on the task at hand. This mostly occurs because every day tasks are habits; they’re tasks you can perform quite mindlessly without you needing to pay them much attention. But if you intentionally shift the focus of your attention to the here-and-now and pay attention to the task at hand, you have the opportunity to practice mindful awareness without needing to create any extra hours in the day or extra tasks for you to-do list.

Mindfulness: Getting Started

To start, pick a mundane task that you perform every day – brushing your teeth or having a shower are great options as they’re usually performed at the same time each day as part of your regular routine. When it’s time to do your task, set your intention to be consciously present throughout the entire task. Do this by noticing how your body feels while performing the task: notice the movements that different parts of your body make as you carry out your task, notice any sensations you feel against your skin, notice things you can see, sounds you hear, or odours you can smell. To use teeth brushing as an example, you may notice yourself picking up the brush and applying toothpaste, you may notice the way your hand and arm move in space as you put the brush to your teeth, you may notice the sensation of the brush bristles as they move against your teeth and gums, you may notice the cool feel of the toothpaste against your tongue, or the taste and smell of the flavour of the toothpaste, and so on.

Stay On Task

When you perform your daily mindfulness task, it’s important to remember that your mind is likely to wander and drift off to think about other things – memories of the past, plans for your day ahead, judgements. This is completely normal, thinking is what minds do. If you notice your mind has wondered, be careful not to criticise or judge yourself, instead simply notice that your mind has wandered and gently bring your attention back to your here-and-now experience of performing the task. If you do notice your mind wandering, rest assured you’re doing the task correctly. Each time you notice your mind has wandered and you bring your attention back to the present moment is itself a practice of mindful awareness.

Kim is a warm and empathetic clinical psychology registrar who is passionate about working with adults and young adults to improve their quality of life, enhance adaptive coping/functioning, and reduce suffering. Kim works with a range of presentations including drug and alcohol problems, addiction, issues relating to managing intense emotions, eating disorders and eating related difficulties, low self-esteem and identity issues, relationship difficulties, trauma, stress and coping, anxiety disorders, depression, sleep disorders, personality disorders, and complex and co-morbid presentations.


 

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