What is mindfulness and why it is so important to us
Our mind is constantly thinking, our thoughts revolve around the past or anticipate the future and thus distract us from the here and now. Mindfulness, on the other hand, means being aware of the moment and focusing your attention on what you are doing. Inner mindfulness means becoming aware of your thoughts and emotions and learning to observe them without judging or reacting to them. Mindfulness connects us with the world around us and within us and thus gives us back control over our lives. The result: we feel self-determined, happy and satisfied.
The aim of mindfulness training is to focus our mind on the present moment , to train our gaze inward, to perceive our own emotions and thoughts without evaluating them, in order to switch off the autopilot . In this way, unconscious thought and behavior patterns become conscious and can be broken through. Through mindfulness training we learn to stay in the here and now through self-observation – even when the world around us is hectic and chaotic.
More and more scientists around the world are dealing with the positive effects of mindfulness training and are combining millennia-old spiritual knowledge with scientific findings. Mindfulness training is also used successfully in the treatment of many stress-related lifestyle diseases of the body and mind, such as burn-out, depression or high blood pressure .
Bloody beginner? How to integrate mindfulness into your everyday life
Whether in a mindfulness course lasting several weeks or at home alone, everyone can learn mindfulness. Without any previous experience, large equipment or expenditure of time. Just a few minutes a day are enough to get started – and to be honest: Who of us does not find ten minutes a day when he simply puts down his smartphone or turns off the television?
You do n’t have to be a yogi or a Tibetan meditation master to learn mindfulness. All you need is the desire and will to lead a more conscious life and get off the hamster wheel of ever-circling and often harmful thoughts. Whether early in the morning right after waking up, while brushing your teeth, while cooking or on the way to work, small mindfulness exercises can be integrated into the day at almost any time without much effort, as breathing exercises, concentration exercises, body awareness exercises, visualizations or mindfulness meditation. There is a large selection of techniques so that everyone can find the method that is best for them.
15 minutes a day – how mindfulness really fits into everyday life
You don’t have to start with an hour of meditation right away, set yourself small goals at the beginning and build on them to avoid frustration. Just a few minutes a day are enough to experience the positive effects of mindfulness . For example, start doing some breathing or body awareness exercises right after you wake up before you pick up your cell phone. Set yourself a goal of three minutes and increase the time slowly and steadily. After about 6 weeks you will have established a routine and your mindfulness practice has become as natural as brushing your teeth. And it has certainly been extended automatically.
The number of techniques and methods is large, try out between the individual paths and choose the method that you like best and that does you good. You don’t have to do all of the methods , but learn to do everything you do slowly and consciously.
6 mindfulness exercises for everyday life
1. Start the day mindfully
Before you jump out of bed in the morning and get ready for work or pick up your cell phone, lie down for a few moments or sit up straight.
Step 1 : Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths in and out , feel the breath flowing through your body. Observe the movements of your chest and abdominal wall to the rhythm of your breathing.
Step 2 : Find your intention for the day. In order to find them, ask yourself questions , such as: Which character trait do I want to strengthen? How can I take better care of myself in the future? How can I manage to approach myself and others with more compassion, even in difficult moments ? Or think of the tasks that lie ahead of you today or difficult situations in the past in order to find your intention.
Step 3 : Set your intention , for example “Today I will fully listen to the signs from my body.” You can repeat them three times for yourself in silence.
Step 4 : Check your progress : Throughout the day, keep reminding yourself of your intention. Interrupt your activity, take a few deep breaths and see how well you have implemented your intention so far – without judging! Every day you will find it easier to implement your intention with positive effects on you, your environment and your interactions.
2. Eating consciously Eating
is more than just satisfying hunger . It is one of the most sensual experiences we can have – when we eat consciously. Therefore: Turn off the television and radio while you eat , take a few deep breaths before you eat and concentrate on your food, its smell, its colors. Listen to your body and find out how hungry it really is. Do you only eat because it is time to eat or are you really light or very hungry? Only eat the amount that your body really demands. Eat slowly and consciously , focusing on the taste and texture of each food.
For tips on how to integrate healthy eating into everyday life, we recommend our interview with nutrition coach Julia Gruber .
3. Mindful activity: walking, cooking, driving
It is nice weather? Take off your shoes and walk slowly and deliberately barefoot across the grass. Close your eyes if possible or keep your gaze lowered to the floor so as not to be distracted and be aware of every step. How does the ground feel under your feet? Which part of the foot do you put on first? What does the feeling remind you of? The exercise is transferable to all activities, no matter what you are doing, stay with your attention and awareness.
4. Mindful breathing – meditation practice
In the hectic pace of everyday life , we often forget that we are breathing . Our breath is shallow and unconscious. Breathing and mind influence each other. If we are excited and our thoughts are racing, we breathe quickly and hectically. If we calm our breath, the mind also calms down and brings us into the here and now.
Whether as a meditative break, to calm your thoughts before going to sleep or after waking up : simple breathing exercises can be built into the day at any time. If possible, sit up straight, cross-legged, on a chair, or lie on your back. Close your eyes and bring your attention inward to your breathing.
Step 1: Watch your breathing for 3-5 minutes as it flows in and out of your body without affecting it. If your mind wanders, don’t get angry and bring your attention back to your breathing.
Step 2: Focus your attention on more subtle aspects of your breathing: notice the air you breathe in and out of your nostrils, notice the difference in temperature between the air you breathe in and out . Become aware of the pause in breathing after inhaling and the movement of your abdominal wall, which rises as you inhale and falls as you exhale.
Step 3: After 3-5 minutes, detach yourself from your breathing and perceive your body for a moment before you open your eyes.
5. Body perception / body scan
Lie on your back and close your eyes . Turn your attention to your breathing and watch it for a while. Just perceive it without influencing it. Then, let your attention move through your body in a fixed order, top-down or bottom-up. Consciously perceive every part of the body, perceive tension, tingling or numbness without judging. Also notice where your body is in contact with the surface. Repeat the scan several times if desired. You can do the scan alone or follow a guided meditation.
6. The 5 Senses Awareness Exercise
Use your five senses one after the other to consciously perceive:
Step 1: Look around you and focus your attention on five things that you see, one at a time. Choose something that you normally wouldn’t pay attention to, for example: the shadow of a bird, the small crack in the wall, the speck of dust in the beam of light.
Step 2: Perceive four things that you can feel right now : the fabric of your pants on your skin, the wind in your hair, the surface structure of the chair you are sitting on.
Step 3: Bring your attention to three sounds around you, one after the other: the chirping of birds outside, the noise of the computer, the sound of raindrops on the window.
Step 4: One after the other , perceive two smells around you , pleasant or unpleasant: the smell of the wet lawn or the smell of the fast food restaurant.
Step 5: get a taste . Have a sip of juice, chewing gum, or bite into an apple and taste the taste.
The progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobson is an ideal method for more awareness.
Each of us can learn more mindfulness and integrate it into our everyday life without much effort , whether through breathing exercises, body scans or perception exercises. The positive effects can usually be felt immediately. All it takes is the will to lead a more conscious life and a few minutes a day. And sometimes you don’t even need extra time : You can practice mindfulness in every activity by directing your awareness to what you are doing.