They envisage a carefree idyllic life spent sipping green tea, doing yoga, gardening and reading spiritual texts on my picnic mat.
The reality is that I’m an everyday person and my mindfulness training all occurred under real life circumstances. I’m involved in the running of two businesses from home and my everyday life is full of normal everyday stuff (like paying bills, making food, working on my businesses, hanging out with friends and doing housework etc.).
I do make space for reading spiritual texts, yoga and walks in nature but more importantly perhaps, I find ways to bring mindfulness into my busy, daily life. And my life right now, let me tell you, is busy!
Between moving house (from Sydney to Byron Bay) and restructuring my business, it’s all happening right now.
But busy doesn’t have to equal stress. Activity doesn’t have to mean overwhelm.
Here are the three mindfulness methods I make sure I employ when things are very busy like this:
1. I Practice Unit-Tasking
There is a myth that multi-tasking makes us more productive; in reality, it drains us faster. In actuality, multi-tasking does not exist. What we call multi-tasking is not ‘doing several tasks at once’ but rather we quickly flit our attention from task to task. That creates stress.
Research shows that we’re not any more productive working in that way; we’re just busier, both mentally and physically, exhausting ourselves needlessly.
I don’t multi-task. I find it horribly stressful and unnecessary. I practice unit-tasking instead. Here’s how you do it.
Make each task your universe.
Take on each task in your day with full awareness, one by one. Do each one mindfully and where possible, stay with the task till completion (without switching to another task).
I find I not only enjoy my day more working in this way, but I’m more efficient too, and finish it all without feeling worn out or tense.
My mantra on super busy days is “one thing at a time, one moment at a time.”
Let us always remember that life is not a to-do list. It’s meant to be enjoyed!
2. I Use Mindfulness Bells
In France, there is a famous ‘mindfulness monastery’ called Plum Village. At random intervals during each day, the sound of a ‘mindfulness bell’ echoes through the village. Upon hearing the sound, every person stops whatever they are doing and takes a moment to simply be.
These pauses in the day are an opportunity for people to connect deeply with themselves and to life in the present moment.
We may not be a monastery but I found a way to introduce these mindfulness bells into my day. I use an awesome iPhone app called Zazen (it’s also available for Android phones).
The free version that I use has two settings. One is a meditation timer but the other is a mindfulness bell which can be set to go off at intervals during the day – either 15, 30 or 60 minutes.
When I hear the sound of the bell, I take a brief pause from what I’m doing and take a deep slow conscious breath. These mindfulness bells provide little sprinklings of mindful moments throughout my day, bringing me peace and pleasure in the middle of it all.
Try this practice and you’ll discover how quickly just one slow conscious breath can transform your state! If you don’t have a smartphone, you can get creative and set up another kind of mindfulness bell to go off during your day.
3. I Take One Minute of Mindfulness
I often take ‘one-minute meditations’ throughout the day. These mini mindfulness sessions are like a refreshing oasis when things get a bit kooky.
I like to take them particularly when I feel any stress creeping in or when my body gets tired (I use a standing desk which at time can get physically tiring but I find better for my posture).
To do this practice you will need a clock or timer. Set the time for one minute. During this time, your task is to focus attention on your breathing and nothing else. Allow your body to relax and rest attention lightly on the rhythm of the breath – and simply enjoy breathing.
You may practice with your eyes either open or closed. If you lose touch with the breath and become lost in thought during this time, simply let go of the thought and gently bring attention back to the breath. Bring attention back as many times as you need to.
Minute meditations are soooooooo wonderful in those times when you start to feel a little stressed or aggravated.
Try these three mindfulness methods and let me know how they go for you! Feel free to share your own ideas and wisdom in the comments section below.