If you’re struggling with keeping your mind clear and focused throughout the day, mindfulness might be the practice that’s missing from your daily routine. By dedicating just 10 minutes a day to yourself to regain focus, awareness and consciousness, you will be able to tackle your day-to-day tasks with greater ease. Clearing your mind of uncertainty and regaining a sense of clarity seems like a daunting feat, but the key to doing so is actually an innate human process: breathing. Before I lose your attention, let’s look at how to practice mindfulness in seven easy steps.
1. Get comfortable
Get yourself in a comfortable position so that you don’t want to adjust or fidget. The easiest position is seated in a chair.
2. Be natural
Once you’re in position, don’t strain it. Keeping good posture is helpful, but not if it detracts from your overall comfort, which is most important.
3. Close your eyes
No peeking. Keeping your eyes open is an option if maintaining your visual attention on a specific object helps you focus, but closing your eyes tends to draw attention to the breath, which is the main focus of the exercise.
Good news: you’re already doing it. This time, just acknowledge it.
Because breathing is something our body does for us, we never focus on our breath. By taking the time to hone in on our breath, we are able to slow down our train of thought. You don’t necessarily have to take deep breaths, but breathe with intention. Inhale. Exhale. Notice that it’s happening.
6. Be patient
Bad news: breathing is boring. Mindfulness should only take about 5-10 minutes out of your day. In theory, this seems like a short amount of time. In practice, it can feel like an eternity. Our minds tend to drift away into a stream of consciousness, and it is our job to pull it back. We tend to underestimate the difficulty of focusing on a process that we typically take for granted. However, by embracing this difficulty, we can regain a sense of awareness in our breathing. Furthermore, we can regain a sense of awareness for the space around us as well as our daily thoughts, emotions, and actions. The key is not losing sight of the center of your attention. When you do, just bring yourself back into the next inhale without blaming yourself for straying. It is just as natural for our thoughts to roam as it is for our lungs to breathe. This time, just focus on the latter.
7. Carry on
Just like we exercise our muscles at the gym in order to get stronger, mindfulness is a way for us to train our awareness. The more you practice mindfulness, the stronger your focus will become. It is not the breath that grants us mental clarity, but the time and energy we use to focus on the breath. If we can apply our focus to something as natural as our breath, we can begin to apply it to everything else. Mindfulness does not necessarily have to be centered around the breath, but around other simple tasks such as walking, folding our laundry or brushing our teeth. Just find something to dedicate your attention to, and after finishing your practice, continue your day with the same diligence you put to mindfulness.