What is Everyday Mindfulness?
Everyday mindfulness is the application of the principles and practices of mindfulness to everyday living. While the everyday applications of mindfulness principles and practices are endless, here are a few places where the impact is particularly great:
- Relationships with Family, Friends, and Co-Workers
- Communicating with Others
- Being True to Your Values
- Fitness and Sports
- Intimate Sexual Relationships
Relationships With Family, Friends, and Co-Workers
Imagine what your relationships with your spouse/partner, children, family, co-workers, and friends would be like if every moment with them was more mindful. You would give them your complete attention and be fully aware of the interaction in the present moment. You wouldn’t be distracted by something else going on at that time and your mind would not be jumping ahead of the conversation or dredging up some past thoughts or feelings. Instead of judging or criticizing, you’d be listening with understanding.
How do you think your spouse/partner, children, family, co-workers, and friends would feel if you started interacting with them this way? Do you think it would improve your relationships and maybe even result in some modeling behavior where they started to be more mindful of you when you wanted their attention?
I’m not naive enough to think that you will communicate this way 100% of the time. I understand the pressures of everyday life and how difficult it is to be completely mindful of all interactions with everyone, all of the time. I do know from personal experience however that when you start to treat others in a more mindful way (less judgmental, more present-centered, listening to them without trying to figure them out etc.) they do appreciate it and often reciprocate more mindfully without even realizing it.
How would you feel towards the people in your life who really matter if they started being more mindful of you when they spent time with you? Wouldn’t it be nice to have them listen to you without judgment, be fully involved in what you were saying or doing, and not jump into the past or future taking you out of the present moment?
Practicing formal and informal mindfulness training will have immediate cross-over effects in your relationships with others. Without even thinking about it you will find yourself being more mindful of others in your interactions with them.
Communicating with Others
Good communication involves giving and receiving messages clearly and openly. A big part of this involves active listening. It takes practice to be able to listen with your full attention without judging what someone is saying. Practicing mindfulness will help you do this. Good communication also involves being aware of the need to clear up miscommunications as quickly as possible, before they can damage relationships. Mindfulness can help you become more aware of miscommunications and the need to intervene. Mindfulness involves noticing not just what is being said but also how it is being said and the influence of your environment on the dialogue.
Staying True to Your Values
Your values are the sign posts that guide you on your journey through life. Values guide you in living a life filled with passion and purpose. They are central to who you are as a person and what makes you happy. Understanding your values and being more mindful of living in synch with them takes practice. Most people spend little time assessing their values and rarely try to align their lives to be more in synch with them. Mindfulness training focuses on both the internal environment (your thoughts, emotions, beliefs and values etc.) and the external environment (the physical environment and your behavior).
Intimate Sexual Relationships
If you have been in a sexual relationship with your partner for several years you have probably experienced the same sexual activities hundreds of times. Because of this familiarity with your partner and the activities it is easy for your mind to say “been there, done that” and get distracted when having sex. It is even easier for your mind to jump ahead into the future and anticipate how the activities will play out.
To counter this and unleash the power of your sexual mind you need to approach sex more mindfully, with a “beginner’s mind” as the Buddhists say. This means accepting that each day you, your partner, and the context of your sexual activities changes. Because of this you have the ability to experience your partner and your sexual relationship as something new and special if you approach them mindfully, without prejudgment. Using all five of your senses and the power of your sexual mind you can discover new joy and sexual pleasure alone and with your partner if you allow yourself to.
Imagine what your sex life could be like if each time you made love with your partner you did so mindfully, with all five of your senses. Your mind would stay in the present moment, fully experiencing the sensations of touch, taste, smell, sight and sound as you and your partner made love. You would be so locked into the present moment that your mind would not drift to the past or future, wouldn’t try to figure anything out or solve any problems. You wouldn’t compare your partner or the experience to some set of societal expectations. Instead you would give yourself completely and accept the gift of your partner’s sexual offering with grace and gratitude.
This is not some fantasy or sexual lifestyle beyond your reach. It has nothing to do with age, beauty, penis or breast size or other physical attributes, lingerie, jewelry, perfume, make-up, or any of the variables society equates with great sex. Ordinary people can have extraordinary sex with the same partner for years and years if they approach each experience with grace and gratitude and a beginner’s mind.
Fitness and Sports
Wouldn’t it be great if you could train yourself to “get into your zone” and practice mindfulness at the same time? The good news is that you can do both. Mindfulness training is being used by Sports Psychologists all around the world to help athletes and fitness enthusiasts become more mindful of their actions and get their minds into that zone where outside distractions, fears, and worries, are replaced by inner calm and razor sharp focus.
With mindfulness you can turn any aerobic fitness activity into a form of moving meditation that you can use anywhere to calm your mind and tune into your body for greater results. Unlike traditional meditation, which is practiced while sitting quietly, moving meditation uses the movements that accompany any repetitive continuous physical activity as the focal point.
To practice moving meditation you can use walking, running, swimming, bicycling, cross-country skiing, or any other activity that involves repetitive, continuous physical activity that is sustained for at least twenty minutes thereby providing an aerobic training effect.
Eating is one of the great pleasures of life. Imagine what each meal would be like if you could slow your mind (and body) down and just focus on the experience of savoring your food? When you fully focus on what you are eating and drinking, you experience your meal with all five senses. You start to appreciate the different aromas, tastes, textures, and other qualities of your food and beverages.
Mindful eating is often taught to people with eating disorders and as part of weight loss/management programs to help folks become more mindful of their eating behavior. People are taught during mindful eating to slow their eating behavior as a way to control what and how much they eat. They learn how their minds contribute to their food choices, eating cues, and actual eating behavior.
I’ve developed a new course, Everyday Mindfulness, that will teach you (or your clients) how to become more mindful of all of the amazing things that go on in your life every day. You’ll learn how to fully experience life in the present moment with all five of your senses.