Mindfulness is being embraced everywhere these days, from the Kindergarten classroom to company retreats. What is mindfulness, exactly? Susan Smalley, Ph.D., and Diana Winston, co-authors of Fully Present, say that mindfulness is "an accepting and kind attitude toward yourself and your present moment experience." One that will change your relationship to life.
Sounds enticing, huh? Here are a few tips on how to integrate the practice of mindfulness into your home.
1. Set an intention when you wake up. Before you get out of bed, take a few deep breaths and a minute to give thanks for the day. What do you want to accomplish today beyond your to-do list? What do you want to appreciate, acknowledge, and communicate in your life?
2. Make your bed. Making your bed is a productivity-enhancing and mood-boosting habit that can promote the adoption of other healthy habits. Take three minutes (yep, I timed it) and start your day off right.
3. Do your laundry. Karen Maezen Miller, a Zen Buddhist priest and author of Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life, says, "A full hamper reminds us that running away from the things we would rather avoid makes our lives feel like an endless chore. Face it. Taking responsibility for your own well-being is the first step in transformation."
4. Practice mindful eating. Eat when you are hungry, not when you are tired, sad, anxious or bored. Take a minute to appreciate your food: Where did it come from? How did it make its way to you? What people might have been involved in getting the food to your plate? How will this food nourish you? (Studies show that when we practice mindful eating, we take in only what is necessary.)
5. Turn off the TV, the computer and any other stimulating devices at least two hours before bed every evening. Our brains need time to build melatonin, which is critical for deep rest. Personally, I find that this technology curfew is one of the best house rules I have.
6. Slow down, literally. When we race around at a frenetic pace, our minds operate at the same speed. And who can sleep at night when your head is spinning like a Nutcracker ballerina after too many Red Bulls? When you slow down your physical actions, even just the smallest bit, your shoulders relax, your jaw un-clenches, and your mind can be a bit more at ease.
7. Pause to think about your consumption. Give gratitude to all of the people behind each purchase: The person who delivered your Amazon package, the person who packed it and shipped it, the person who assembled your new book, the person who wrote it, edited it, the list goes on and on. Think also about how your consumption affects the greater world. Do you really need to order another pair of shoes from Zappos? Think of everything that this purchase means; it's not just a new pair of shoes. It's a pair of shoes that requires a box, packaging materials, time and energy to ship, time and energy to store and maintain, time and energy to pass it along once it is no longer serving you. Sometimes the greatest gift you can give yourself is deciding NOT to purchase something.
8. Take a ten minute "mind re-set" break in the middle of the day. We live in a world that is turned on at full-speed, full-blast, full time. The body craves balance and one great way to achieve it is by doing nothing for ten minutes a day. Mindfulness is sometimes called the "seat belt of mental health." The body cultivates what we practice and practice changes the breath. By practicing becoming relaxed and aware, we can actually become more so in our daily life.
Fasten your seat belts, because the holidays are here. This holiday season, consider taking a few minutes each day to cultivate a home that is more mindful, a mind that is more peaceful, and an attitude that keeps you happier at home.
Originally published 12/13/2012 - DF