A common misconception about mindfulness is that it’s entirely the absence of thought. However, it should be obvious that this is wrong — it’s not called mindfulness for nothing. To be mindful is to (simply put) accomplish two things. First, you clear your mind. Second — and this is the important part — you focus on the present environment and the world around you within that very moment.
No past, no future. Just the moment you currently exist within.
The problem is that as entrepreneurs and busy people, we don’t often have the time or ability to shut off our brains and focus on what’s really around us. That’s why when the moment occurs, we all have to strike while the iron is hot.
- Your Daily Commute
It’s probably a good idea to avoid spacing out while you’re driving to work, but that doesn’t mean you can take some time during your commute to be mindful. This is much easier if you take the train, bus or subway to work. You aren’t having to worry about the rules of the road and it’s easier to let your mind wander and focus on the world around you.
If you do drive, try and make it to work a little early. Don’t try to be mindful while driving, but instead for a few minutes once you get to work. Sit in your car, turn off your brain and take in your environment.
- Make Food Mindful
Being mindful isn’t just about drifting away and taking in the sights. It’s also about savoring all of your senses — including your sense of taste.
You’ll find time to eat during the day, which means you’ll find time to be mindful. The food you’re eating doesn’t have to be from a five star restaurant in order for mindfulness occur. Even if you only have time for a Hot Pocket at your desk, take the time to notice the flavor and only the flavor. How does the food feel? How does it taste?
- Before Sleep
You aren’t a robot — you’ve got to sleep sometime! If you don’t have time to be mindful during the day, simply make time at night. About five minutes before you’re scheduled to go to sleep, let your mind wander and experience the world around you.
It’s actually easier to be mindful when your mind is already looking forward to shutting down. Practicing mindfulness before bed is one way to be more successful at the exercise, and it’s also simultaneously relaxing so you can fall asleep faster.
- Emotional Awareness
We’ve covered things like sight, sound and taste, but mindfulness also encompasses another spectrum of yourself: emotions. Examining your emotions in the present is a great way to get in tune with them and ease stress.
This can be done at any time during the day, but consider focusing on this during any bathroom breaks you take at work. Wash your hands and focus on feeling the water and soap, then look inward and assess your emotions. This takes only a few second and can still leave you feeling at ease.