Meditation can be intimidating. The notion of sitting quietly, eyes closed, while motionless can prevent even seasoned meditators from sticking to their practice.
Fortunately, you do not have to engage in classic meditation in order to practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is calm, non-judgmental awareness of the present moment; a deep engagement with Presence. This includes tuning into the sights/sounds/sensations of your external environment or curiously checking-in with your own emotions.
Here are 3 ways to practice mindfulness without having to close your eyes:
1. Mindful House Chores
Perform chores at a pace that is neither too fast, nor too slow. Focus your full attention on the task while monitoring your thoughts for negative thoughts that might be forming about the chore. Breathe slowly, experience the sensations of the task and allow it to happen. If you pay careful attention, there is joy to be found in even the most monotonous tasks. Be careful not to transition from mindfulness to mindlessness (lost in thought).
2. Mindful Transportation
While walking, driving, or commuting, you may have an automatic reflex to put on music or other forms of media. Every once in awhile, relieve your mind of self-imposed auditory input and pay special attention to the sights and sounds around you. You may notice the vibrations of the road, or the sights of urban wildlife, or any number of sounds. Do not try to place labels on anything, simply notice them and allow them to be. Enjoy the sights and sounds without criticality or judgement.
3. Mindful Cooking and Eating
Cooking & eating offer powerful opportunities to be mindful through the tastes, sounds, sights, and sensations associated with nourishing yourself and others. Cooking necessitates presence of mind and preparing food mindfully can be a very comforting and fulfilling experience. When it's time to eat, practice gratitude and allow yourself to fully appreciate the tastes and textures of your chosen foods. Give mindful eating a try by starting with just one mindful meal per week.
Bonus: Mindful Time with Pets
Our animal friends live in the moment without incessant thinking or artificial sensory-input. Take a moment to be present with them, fully and completely, if just for a few minutes. It is an opportunity to experience love and connection in its raw form.
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-Dr. Riley, ND