5 Ideas for Being Mindful

Staying present is a basic tenet of yoga, but as most of us know, it's difficult to be mindful all the time. Erica Rodefer Winters shares some tips about mindfulness that she's been able to incorporate into her busy schedule.

The importance of being present is one of the first bits of yoga philosophy taught, but, for me, it can be a doozy to put into practice, especially when I have a lot on my plate. I try to be mindful and present as much as possible, but let’s be honest: When things get busy, it sometimes feels like I’m just going through the motions, rewarding myself with check-marks instead of slow, deep breaths.

I know it’s not realistic for me to be present every minute of every day. But, I also know that even when I’m busy, I can incorporate mindfulness part of the time by remembering my purpose at regular intervals.

1. Set an alarm as a reminder. I caught onto this when one of the apps on my phone started sending me a push notification at the same time everyday. At first I found the alarm really annoying; I kept meaning to change the setting. But then I realized I can use it as a cue to pause for just three deep breaths before I go back to what I’m doing.

2. Tune into sensation. There’s a reason yoga poses shift your attention into the present moment—there’s so much sensation happening in the body, it’s hard for the mind to wander to relive the past or plan the future. But you don’t have to be stretched out on a yoga mat to experience this. Whether it’s the air circulating around me, the sun on my skin, or the hint of an aroma wafting through the air, when I notice a sensation I try to use it as an excuse to bring myself completely into the moment even if it’s just for a second or two.

3. When you eat, focus on your food. It’s not a good idea to try and multitask at the dinner table. A few nights ago I thought I’d send a quick email as I was eating my soup. It was bad enough that I didn’t enjoy my dinner (and my family) as much as I could have, but I also ended up dribbling onto my keyboard. I’m trying to do better. Whenever I can, I leave all my gadgets in a different room as I prepare and eat my food.

4. Use your commute. I work from home, so my “commute” is just walking from my bed to my desk these days, but I still find myself behind the wheel a lot running errands, etc. Driving is one of those times we have to be mindful of what we’re doing anyway (ideally), so why not use it as a time to check in with your breath and be present, too? I leave the radio off. I feel the steering wheel move underneath my hands. I appreciate what’s around me, even if it is just a lot of concrete and taillights.

5. Create morning and evening rituals. Recently I’ve been writing in a journal my one happiest moment at the end of each day, then I close my eyes and take a few deep, appreciative breaths. Whatever ritual you choose, building it into your schedule makes mindfulness a priority and it can set the tone for the rest of your day. For me, that can make all the difference between moving with grace or in a frantic, unproductive panic.

How do you incorporate moments of mindfulness throughout your day?