Making Time for Mindfulness

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Making Time for Mindfulness

Life seems to be moving at a faster pace each and every day. Even as technology assists us in simplifying or expediting daily tasks, our culture presses us to do more, be more and yearn for more. A constant state of more, more, more is exhausting. In fact, it can be easy to become almost obsessed with the notion, which can increase anxiety and decrease overall satisfaction in life.

That’s not to say that striving to achieve your true potential isn’t important. Rather, there are tools that can help you find balance with the demands of a go, go, go environment. Mindfulness is one of the most versatile and impactful practices to establish personal resilience through modern life.

It’s often assumed that mindfulness takes a lot of time. Who has time to sit on the floor and meditate for an hour every day? Here’s the good news: You don’t have to (although, if you can, kudos to you). Mindfulness, like exercise, is a continual practice. Consistency is key, but frequency and duration are up to you.

Making time for mindfulness can be one of the most rewarding wellness-related behaviors. Not only will you feel more grounded and less stressed, you’ll also become more aware of your body. This awareness transitions to a stronger connection between mind and body in exercise and nutrition, making it easier to make healthy choices. You might even develop greater awareness around exercise technique and effort, which can help improve your overall fitness.

If you feel like you don’t have time to practice mindfulness, start small. Begin by fully absorbing moments in time. Wake your senses and pay attention to the sights, sounds, smells and sensations your body experiences, but may be unconsciously passed over most days. When you are stuck on a plane, bus or train, look away from your smartphone and gaze out the windows and listen to the sounds around you. As you transition between meetings or walk to lunch, consciously take in your surroundings. Notice the temperature of the air on your skin and be fully present, even if just for a moment. Try your best to actually taste the food that you eat. Slowing the pace of your meal by even one minute can ease digestion and create a more pleasurable culinary experience. Mindful eating has also been shown to help with portion control and weight management.

Once you have mastered mindfulness in the moment, you can progress to setting aside some time for a mini-meditation, which can be performed anywhere in as little as 60 seconds. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Try to equalize your inhale with your exhale, and notice the rise and fall of your belly. If your mind wanders—and it will—bring it back to your breath. This simple practice can be used before a stressful presentation or after a conflict, or anytime you want to feel more centered.

A short bout of mindfulness or mini-meditation is especially beneficial in the morning before starting the day or in the evening before bed. A short meditation break can completely shift your attitude and your mood. The mind is cleared and focus is heightened after a mindful pause. Many people experience feelings of gratitude, satisfaction and ease with a consistent practice. It’s likely that you will begin to crave these short breaks and thus create time in your day to push the refresh button.

Even a one-minute break from the demanding pace of the day can provide a much-needed mental and physical reset. Rather than feeling overwhelmed with committing to a long meditation practice, try being more mindful in your everyday life. Expand your practice with basic breath work and notice if you feel any different in the moment or throughout your day.

Amber LongAmber Long Contributor

Amber Long, M.Ed. currently resides in Denver, Colorado where she is the Executive Director of the Student Wellness Center at the University of Colorado, Denver. Amber is a certified trainer, instructor and health coach as well as a continuing education provider and fitness business consultant. She holds two degrees from Iowa State University, a bachelor’s degree in Community Health Education and a master’s degree in Higher Education, Leadership Policy Studies.  She believes exercise is medicine and works to engage clients from all walks of life in physical activity and smart nutrition in order to live their best life. 

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