It’s 2020 and to start this year and the new decade, I have been invited to share some mindfulness techniques with teachers in our local pyramid of schools during their annual conference. And it got me thinking about mindfulness in all sorts of different ways…
Here’s the thing – life is moving more and more quickly and we are all finding ourselves overloaded with too much to do; hence talking about mindfulness to teachers who have far too much on their plates already! So trying to add even more to an already overflowing schedule just isn’t going to inspire anyone – no matter how good meditation and mindfulness is for you.
So, I came up with 10 simple mindfulness techniques that you can do without adding more than a few minutes to your schedule at most and some you can do while you are going about your daily routine so there really is no excuse at all not to give them a try.
But first of all…
What is Mindfulness?
According to the Greater Good Science Centre at UC Berkley:
“Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens.”
It is the act of paying attention to our current thoughts without judgement and without analysing the past or imagining the future – the act of simply BEING in the current moment.
Now we know what Mindfulness is, here are my 10 very simple ways of including more mindfulness in your daily routine…
1. Create a Daily Gratitude Habit
This is one of my favourite habits! Before you even get out of bed in the morning, think of 3 things you are grateful for – they can be as simple as the warmth of your bed or as big as the Earth travelling around the Sun. It doesn’t matter what you add to your list here, what matters is that by starting your day being grateful for what you already have, it invites more of the good stuff into your life and gives you a ‘feel good’ boost before you’ve even got up!
AND – it only takes a few seconds so no excuse not to try this one!
If you want to take it a bit further, try writing down your three points each morning and add another three at night before you go to sleep – this is something I have done now for a few years and it really makes a difference to my state of mind in the morning.
2. Shower Meditation
Gratitude done, so follow that up with a quick shower meditation – we all have to shower or bathe regularly, so why not include a mindfulness meditation while you’re there! Put those precious minutes to work for you and instead of hurrying through your shower routine, take a moment or two to fully appreciate the feeling of the water as it hits your skin, washing away not only any physical residue, but also any emotional residue too.
An amazing health coach friend of mine suggested adding a couple of drops of essential oil to the shower tray so they will release a gorgeous scent into the shower steam – what a wonderful way to start your day!
3. Mindful Eating
Before you race out of the door and let your day run amok, try taking a few minutes to eat your breakfast or drink your morning coffee mindfully. Is it really going to make you late if you sit down to eat and spend an extra minute chewing your food properly?
Not only does mindful eating help you actually enjoy what you are putting in your mouth, it also aids digestion and helps you realise that you are full more quickly. You can check out some other benefits and ways to practice mindful eating on the Mindful.org blog.
“Mindfulness isn’t difficult,
we just need to remember to do it.”
– Sharon Salzberg
Now you’ve completed 3 mindful moments before you’ve even left the house!
So, what can you do when the shit hits the fan and you are at work or out and about?
4. Starfish Technique
No, this isn’t just lying on the floor and hoping that the world will go away – although kids seem to prove that this technique can work!
The Starfish technique is a breathing exercise that my Health Coach friend also shared with me – her son was actually taught it at school and it’s really easy to do.
Simply hold one hand out in front of you with the palm facing you and then use the index finger of your other hand to trace around your fingers, starting at your wrist near your pinkie finger. As you trace upwards you breathe in and as you trace downwards between your fingers you breathe out.
Try and do this a couple of times – once each hand works well – and keep a slow and steady rhythm as you do it breathing as deeply as you can each time.
Give it a go before you move on to Tip 5 and you will feel the difference…
5. Crystals and Worry Stones
Into the world of ‘Woo’ we go!
I love crystals and spent many years teaching crystal therapy, so I totally believe in the power of these amazing little gems. But even if you don’t, holding a crystal or just having one tucked in your bra (or pocket) can really help in times of stress.
You can buy special crystals called ‘worry stones’ that are shaped with an indent for your thumb to rest nicely in but any crystal or stone will do. It simply works as a reminder to focus and re-centre yourself when you feel overwhelmed.
Try choosing a crystal to suit your mood – Moonstone, Sodalite, Rose Quartz and Amethyst are all good calming crystals and inexpensive to purchase too.
6. Use an App
In a world where we are constantly connected, our phones can be an amazing tool for Mindfulness!
There are lots of useful free Apps out there that can help you de-stress and find a moment of calm in a busy day.
My Top 3 suggestions to try are:
Give one or more of these a try and see how you can bring Mindfulness into your everyday routine wherever you are.
7. Three Sighs
Sigh away – it’s good for you!
When you breathe in deeply and let yourself have a big sigh as you exhale, you are actually breathing into your belly (known as diaphragmatic breathing) which can help with stress and anxiety as well as other physical conditions.
Try breathing in deeply through your nose for at least two seconds, then holding that breath for a second or two before exhaling with a loud sigh. Repeat this another two times and see how it helps release any tension you have been holding.
It’s also a great technique to do with children as they love trying to make the most noise!
“What would it be like if I could accept life – accept this moment – exactly as it is?”
– Tara Brach
8. Write a Shit List
This is one of my favourite techniques EVER!
Whenever I feel like my brain is full and there are way too many browser tabs open at one time, I stop and create a Shit List. It’s the simplest thing in the world but it really, REALLY helps!
All you need to do is get a blank piece of paper and give it a catchy title – I usually go with ‘Things that are pissing me off right now’ – and start writing. Literally brain-dump every single thing that is annoying you from your partner eating too loudly to global warming. No matter how teeny or mammoth it is, add that sucker to your list.
The act of physically writing it out (rather than just thinking it or typing it) actually helps your brain relax and once you’ve finished you will feel lighter.
I like to go through my own list once it’s written and take any items from it that I can actually do something about and choose one I am going to tackle straight away. The rest of the list gets burned. Yup! I light my Shit List up and surrender it to the universe.
9. Oracle Cards
Back in the land of ‘Woo’ for a minute. Oracle cards are simply a deck of cards that have different messages on each card to help you through your day or answer a question that you pose as you shuffle them.
I have a tonne of oracle decks that I use for different situations – from my sweary Rebel Deck to Gabrielle Bernstein’s The Universe Has Your Back and Danielle LaPorte’s Truthbombs – there is a deck for every mood!
Whenever I feel overwhelmed and need some guidance, I choose a deck and as I shuffle the cards I simply ask “What do I need to know to help me now?”. I stop shuffling and choose a card when it feels right to do so, or more often than not one will jump out of the deck with an answer.
10. Mindless Mindfulness
I’m rather good at this one, but hadn’t given it a name until another coaching friend of mine, the lovely and talented Liz Abram, called it – “Mindless Mindfulness”.
At the end of a long day, there is absolutely nothing wrong with watching some rubbish on the tellybox or playing a computer game. Not every activity has to be productive or fruitful and there is absolutely no award for always being ‘busy’ (other than burnout!).
So, there you have it. My 10 simple mindfulness ideas.
Which ones are you going to try?