When I read Andy Puddicombe’s book- The Headspace Guide to Mindfulness and Meditation- I was completely taken up by his emphasis on how meditation needs to be an integral part of our daily lives.
In other words, meditation shouldn’t be something that we make time for in the midst of a busy day; it should be a non-negotiable part of our lives much like breathing, walking or speaking.
But what if we are unable to understand this, let alone apply it? That’s where daily mindfulness comes in.
“The present moment just feels so ordinary that we take it for granted, and yet that’s what makes it so extraordinary – the fact that we so rarely experience the present moment exactly as it is.”-Andy Puddicombe
How about we try and slow down and experience mindfulness in the little things, the things we do everyday, almost on autopilot? Being aware of the present moment in the daily tasks is the best form of meditation.
Today, I’ll share 5 very simple daily mindfulness practices that you can put into practice starting right away.
Washing The Dishes with Mindfulness
In a couple of Instagram live sessions that I’ve done I spoke about how I enjoy washing dishes. It’s a trait I picked up from watching my dad do the dishes.
He is always very meticulous when it comes to tasks. So when he does the dishes, he carefully drapes an apron around his middle, picks up the sponge, squirts a bit of dishwashing liquid into the tray and follows a rhythmic motion that looks absolutely poetic.
This I how I learnt to actually enjoy the task, but more importantly, you can learn to love it too. Here’s how.
First, when you approach your sink full of dirty dishes, reframe your mindset towards the activity, Instead of groaning and sighing at the idea of so many dishes in the sink, remind yourself that you will have clean dishes in about 5 minutes.
5 minutes? A full sink? Of course not. Unless you’re a ninja dishwasher with 10 extra pairs of hands
No, you’re going to learn to enjoy washing a few dishes and do it from a space of mindfulness. Ready?
1. Take 5 dirty dishes from the sink and place them on the counter. Get your dishwashing liquid ready and pick up your sponge.
2. Gently start soaping a cup/a bowl/ a spoon and as you do, observe how you feel about the activity. Are you in a rush? Do you have breakfast to cook? Coffee to make? A floor to sweep? Nudge them aside for a full 2 minutes and focus on the 5 dishes in front of you.
3. Watch how the soap reacts with the grime and removes it, leaving you with a clean dish. This is a marvel on so many levels- of Science working with elegance.
4. Now, turn on the water and run the soaped dish under it and watch as the clean dish emerges, sparkling and fresh. You can now place it gently in the dryer or the dishwasher.
5. Stand back and smile. You’ve just finished your first mindful activity of the day.
Practicing Mindfulness when folding laundry
The next task is learning how to gently embrace the art of folding laundry and follow it as an exercise in mindfulness.
Again, remember how I talked about approaching dishwashing and remind yourself of that feeling when you greet your pile of laundry that needs folding.
For a long time, I used to fold laundry while watching TV. It was the fact that the TV would distract me from the boredom of the task and hey, clothes get folded, right? That’s the important thing.
Then, I made two key changes:
1. Started dedicated a specific time of day exclusively to folding laundry
2. Stopped letting the clothes pile up into a huge mountain
Why do so many of us dislike laundry?
Because it never seems to end. It’s always there! Correct? You may be sick, in good health, in a great mood or a lousy one, exhausted or energized, but laundry is there, irrespective of all that. It’s standing there, like a stoic being, waiting.
Now, let’s do the Reframing Exercise:
It’s always there. What a gently comforting thought. Even if the world turns upside down tomorrow, you will have clean shirts to wear the next day.
And next, for the Mindfulness Exercise:
1. Set aside 15 minutes of your day that you will devote to folding laundry. Ensure that it is without distraction and without diversion.
2. Pick a time when you are likely to be at low intellectual capacity. For me, that’s just before bed. It’s a great way to signal to my body that it’s time to switch off screens, close the drapes and head to a space of rest.
3. Remind yourself that after this activity, you can relax and slip into sleep.
4. Spread out the clothing on your bed (I usually fold laundry in bed) and smooth out the creases and wrinkles by hand. Bring the edges together and neatly fold the clothing so it can be stacked into a pile.
5. As you do this with each piece of clothing, smile and pat yourself on the back.
You’d be amazed by two things when you do this practice regularly:
- How much time it actually takes to fold 10 pieces of clothing (less than 5 minutes)
- How this feeling of joy seeps into other areas of your life
Learn how the art of mindfully folding laundry helps me handle stress in my life
Approaching Social Media as a Creator
Social media can be a tool for good, but most of the time we don’t use it that way. Not because we don’t want to, but because it’s naturally and instinctively wired in our brains to use it as a form of distraction.
If you’ve ever posted a fun video, an image of yourself or a humorous status update and then felt a twinge of disappointment at the low number of likes, comments and shares, then you’d know what I mean.
Social media, unfortunately, takes away the joy of creating for its own sake. It sends the signal that unless we are appreciated for our work, the work itself doesn’t matter.
But, as business owners, social media is a useful tool, when used intentionally.
Here are ways to approach social media mindfully:
1. Each time you open a social media platform, pause for 15 seconds and ask why you are doing so. Is this necessary? Is this important? Can it wait? Just asking the question is an act of mindfulness.
2. Embrace awareness. Do you know how much time you spend looking at your phone everyday? Again, a gentle awareness of this goes a long way. (Swipe right to see what just 2 hours of phone time a day adds up to, in a single year)
3. Turn off all notifications. You don’t need to be notified when someone comments on your post or hearts your content. You can learn that on your own time.
4. Again, just like email, don’t start your day with social media. Every time we do this, we put other people’s needs ahead of our own. Your morning is precious. Protect it.
5. Use social media, as much as possible, on your desktop. I only use Instagram on my phone for 2 reasons: posting to stories and live videos. Even for that, I install the app, upload my content and un-install it soon afterwards.
6. Set a specific time block of the day to respond to comments and messages on social media. I usually respond to them in a 30-minute dedicated session via desktop. On some days, I batch responses to 3 days’ worth of comments. This way I can respond with care.
Gently remind yourself daily that your worth does not depend on your social media numbers.
How to Handle Email with Mindfulness
We all get email, even the ones who are not active on social media.
It stands to reason that our connection with people in the digital world thrives primarily on two things: text messages and e-mails. This also means that we can unwittingly invite stress into our lives due to that feeling of being overwhelmed by all the messages.
So how do we approach email with mindfulness? Here’s how:
1. When you open your email inbox, remind yourself that you have three options before you: Respond, Archive or Delete. I call it RAD for short. Hey, it sounds cool!
2. Don’t start your day with e-mail. Trust me on this. It’s NOT that important. It’s not life and death. It’s email.
3. Set aside a block of time (maybe 30 minutes) in the middle of your work day, after you have finished some work that required your creative best.
4. Before you open an email, take a slow, deep breath. It’s an email. It’s not a ticking time bomb, but most people are anxious when they check their emails because they are wired to do so with expectations.
5. When opening an email, remind yourself that this is your time and your pace. Gently look through the inbox and sort the emails into the respond/archive/delete category first. Then, you can settle down to writing responses.
6. If an email requires a detailed response, take your time to craft a thoughtful one. Write with care, picture the other person smiling when they open your email. Make them feel heard and acknowledged.
7. Imagine how you feel when you get a response from someone you look up to; that’s the feeling every individual has when they open an email addressed to them. Make it count.
Doing this once or twice a day ensures that you aren’t tied to your inbox. For that reason, I usually recommend only checking your e-mail on your computer and not on your phone. The phone creates a false sense of urgency. Remember to dis-engage from that.
How to Breathe with Mindfulness
This final exercise is such an important one, but a much overlooked one when people start to practise mindfulness.
Breath is something most of us take for granted, because it’s natural and habitual. We don’t really have to think about breathing- we just breathe.🙏
But you’d notice that when your anxiety/stress/worry levels rise, the first thing to get affected is the way you breathe. From a comfortable rhythm, it becomes ragged and broken up.
We hold our breath, in a tightly wound coil inside of us when we are tense. We breathe rapidly when we get overworked.
This exercise today is to help us gently acknowledge our breath, bring our awareness back to it and get into our natural rhythm through the day. As you keep practicing this, you’d notice it gets easier to do.
1. Start your day with a brief focusing on your breath. You can do this even while sitting up in bed. Just observe how you breathe after you wake up. No judgment. Just observe.
2. After brushing your teeth, sit down in a comfortable position and set a 1-minute timer. I use the Insight Timer app @insighttimer and gift myself a 1-minute moment to connect with myself.
3. Close your eyes and observe your breath. You don’t have to call it meditation, if that feels resistant. You’re just noticing how air enters your nostrils and leaves it. If it makes it easier, place one hand on your belly and observe how it rises and falls in relation to the breath. If it helps, place the other hand on your heart and feel the beating inside your chest.
4. When you observe your mind wandering, notice it, smile and then gently nudge it back to your breath. Over time this will become easier and more effortless to do.
5. Give gratitude for breath entering and leaving your body in this beautiful rhythm. How blessed we are for being able to breathe. Remind yourself of this each time.
6. Once you get into a breathing flow state, repeat an affirmation to yourself: ‘May I be well, may I be grateful, may the world be well.’
This entire exercise will take you between 1 to 2 minutes to do and it’s something you can incorporate multiple times in your day. Try it.
I’ve just completed 50 days of daily mindfulness meditation thanks to the Insight Timer app and I can’t tell you how happy I feel about this milestone.
I’m a blog, social media and content coach with over 13 years of writing, blogging and social media experience.
Join my free weekly newsletter that 700+ creators read every Friday.