Five Ways to Practice Mindfulness When You’re Busy

We don't always have time for a formal meditation practice. Here's how you can practice mindfulness, even on your busiest days.

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There are days when life just doesn’t make it easy to stop and take time for a longer period of meditation. But why let that stop you from injecting mindfulness into your life in small does throughout the day? Being mindful throughout the day isn’t about doing everything as if you were handling a delicate porcelain vase. It’s more about taking short breaks from the momentum of persistent thoughts that can lead to needless stress.

Here are five suggestions for quick doses of refreshing mini-breaks spread across your day:

1. Start your day with a pause

When you go to wash up in the morning, as you look in the mirror, use it as a chance to take three conscious breaths before you start your mental engines. Then, as you brush your teeth, go slow and pay attention, using the sensation to bring your attention back to the moment, despite the pull to start revving up your thoughts about the day ahead.

2. Savor your morning coffee

When you’re drinking your favorite morning beverage, you’ll taste it more and enjoy it better if you sip it, occasionally taking pauses to experience the full sensation of what your doing. This little act can help to set the tone for the day: use your senses to bring you back into your body.

This little act can help to set the tone for the day: use your senses to bring you back into your body.

3. Take a mindful walk

At some point every day, take a short walk—even if it’s only around your house or office—paying full attention to each step as your foot hits the ground, and the other foot lifts, swings, and lands. If you can make the walk slightly longer, you’ll get some exercise while also getting out of your head and into your body for a few minutes. If the walk is on the way to yoga, an exercise class, or a swim, so much the better!

4. Practice eating with gratitude

At your evening meal, take a moment to be thankful that you have good nourishing food and give some thought to all the people needed to make it possible. This little moment of gratitude can shift your attitude to enjoying a little feast rather than just getting the meal over with. If you’re eating with others, see if you can enlist them into pausing at the beginning and taking a break from devices.

5. Slow down before you sleep

Take a moment with your feet on the floor before you get completely into bed. Just take 3 to 5 minutes to follow your breath as it goes out, noticing thoughts, and letting them dissolve, returning to the breath. Now, get some rest.