Welcome to our mindfulness series with world-renowned yogi, Kate Kendall. For this week’s teaching, she’s focusing on mindfulness for beginners. Below, she shares her simple but effective tips to incorporate mindfulness into your everyday life. From work to play and everything in between, this is mindfulness 101.
Truth: there’s no quick and easy fix to instantly being mindful.
Like anything else worth achieving, it takes time and becomes a lifestyle decision. However, the good news is you can start right now and the more that you practise it — even in the simplest of scenarios — the more skilled you become.
So, do you want to start being more mindful and living in the present for greater fulfilment and health? Hell yeah! Here’s my cheat sheet to get started.
Mindfulness For Beginners: how to be more mindful in everyday situations
At various times in your day (set a reminder or choose meal times if easier), take one conscious breath. Sometimes that’s all it takes to come back to the moment.
Minimise multi-tasking (multi-tasking is not a skill, by the way. It’s called a ‘distraction’) and close down all unnecessary tabs. Set aside time to focus on one job only and then move on—it’s called monotasking and it’s a lot more effective.
In a meeting, take a moment to incorporate your ‘one conscious’ breath and feel the sensation of the chair underneath your sit bones. This will help you feel grounded and better able to listen to what people are saying and contribute confidently where you feel appropriate. Less is more.
Choose the activities that contribute to your health and happiness in some way. Do it for the love. If you notice a certain social activity becomes draining, give it up. Life’s short.
Mindful walking. If you’re like me and love to walk (but really this can be done in any exercise or activity) choose a time to do this solo so that you can focus less on conversation and more on feeling. Feel the earth under your feet, the breeze on your skin and the sound of birds, traffic or the ocean. Whatever is around you, let that be a part of your experience. When you feel your mind wandering, gently come back to the aliveness around you.
When connecting with your nearest and dearest, try gossiping less and getting right to the heart of things. Notice how often we fill silences with small talk. One question I love asking my good girlfriends is, “How’s your heart?” it bypasses all of the small talk and complaining about ‘busy-ness’ (P.S. I didn’t ask you how busy you were) and goes straight to the juice—and be prepared to listen to the answer. It makes way for a far deeper connection, which I think we’re all craving to some degree.
Take five minutes each morning to check in with how you’re feeling today. Not how you’re feeling in comparison to yesterday or in comparison to how you want to feel but rather meet yourself exactly where you’re at. If you’re feeling down or there’s a trace of sadness, you know that today you need to be ‘tender’ with yourself. Or if you’re feeling energised and fun-loving, you use this fuel to get things done and be your most awesome self. Being mindful is respecting and being inclusive of every part of yourself.
Choose one meal this week to practice ‘mindful eating’. Need a step-by-step guide? 1. Before starting your meal, take a moment to appreciate how the food got onto your plate (farmers, labour, transport, preparation etc.) 2. What can you smell? 3. Taste. Take one small bite and, as you leave the morsel in your mouth, notice what flavours you can taste. 4. Swallow and take a moment before your next bite. Not only will this process slow you down and improve digestion but more often than not, we’ll take only what we need to save over-eating.
Be aware of your cravings. Once we’re able to distinguish our habits from our cravings, we can really tap into our bodies. Your body is so intelligent and when we clean it out for long enough, we start to hear it tell us when we need more protein, when we need more water or when we simply need to rest.