How A Morning Of Mindfulness Can Change Your Day

Mindfulness is an important part of life.

Mindfulness is an important part of life.

The other day I took the only day I had free and proceeded to fill it up with busyness. My list had three grocery stores, a craft store and a bunch of other errands. As I put on my shoes and got my purse, I suddenly remembered…this was the day I planned to take pictures of wildflowers and ride my bike. I was taking my least busiest day and making it as stressful as all the others!

On another day, a few weeks ago, while on auto pilot and thinking too many thoughts, I got to my destination without even paying attention to the drive. Then there was one night last week I couldn’t sleep as I made all sorts of lists in my mind of things I needed to do. My distracted mind, or Monkey Mind as Buddhists called it, had taken control! I was falling into the trap of our culture and being too busy. (Do you remember what I think of busy… read more here about the 4 Letter Word, here). I had too much going on in my head. I realized that I needed to take the time to be more mindful!

What is Mindfulness?
It’s paying attention “on purpose”. It’s being aware without judgement. Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism. It’s the 7th part of the Eightfold path. Let on its own our mind wanders back into the past and forward into the future. These thoughts can include worry, anger, disappointment, fear, grief and self pity. You suffer with these thoughts because the past is gone and the future a fantasy. Letting go of these thought, paying attention without judgment. This creates a stillness and peace in the mind. When using mindfulness in your life you tend to be here now. And now is usually filled with contentment.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk, brought mindfulness to the attention of Westerners (click here for some more about Thich Nhat Hanh). Others, like Jon Kabat-Zinn, the author of many books on mindfulness and the creator of the 8 week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course – MBSR, have brought mindfulness into the limelight. His course is now offered at hospitals as part of their healing plans. He teaches mindfulness to help people cope with stress, anxiety, pain and illness. Mindfulness has become quite popular. It’s no longer considered to be “new-agey” or “woo-woo”. In fact there was an article in the Costco Magazine this month! Mindfulness is recognized as a way to alleviate stress and live more peacefully.

Why practice Mindfulness?
There is scientific evidence that practicing mindfulness can brings peace into your life through your body and mind. Mindfulness can rid the body and mind of stress, anxiety and worry. It can keep related illnesses at bay. It helps the immune system and with the healing process. It can enhance relationships. I think mindfulness, like gratitude, can lead to contentment.

Are you ready to try Mindfulness? There are a few things to do before you start… put any device away. Next don’t think about the past or the future. Mindfulness is all about living in the present. Lastly, remember to breathe. It’s amazing how often we hold our breath. Ok! Here are 6 ways to bring mindfulness into your life:

1. Use Your Five Senses Regularly – We often find ourselves in our mind with our 5 senses muted. When your senses are on, your are aware. And if you’re going to be mindful remember to turn on your senses.

2. Be Mindful First Thing in the Morning – quietly wake up, pause, do some deep breathing or stretch. Have a positive thought. Do not pick up your phone or check your computer. Do not watch the news. Have a quiet ritual that can include smelling the coffee, listening to the birds, meditation or just sitting quietly.

3. Be Mindful During Your Regular Routines – I try be in the moment when I am:
• washing the dishes
• driving down the road
• showering
• brushing my teeth
• walking
• tidying up
• even simply breathing

4. Be Mindful In Nature – This is one of my favorite ways to be mindful. I go sit in my garden and watch the insects. Or take a walk. It’s an instant energizer for me!

5. Be Mindful While Eating – take time to really smell and taste your food. Put your fork down between bits.

6. Practice A Mindfulness Meditation – Many people practice meditation to reduce stress, worry and anxiety. It even helps with illness. Sit quietly, breathe, observe, accept and let go during a mindfulness meditation. Your mind will wander, gently bring it back. Here is a three minute meditation that is often taught with the Jon Kabat-Zinn’s MNSR method:

7. Be Mindful With Your Family – Be mindful when in the presence of your family. Be mindful when you are with others, even people you don’t know. Put down the phone, shut the computer and really listen. Look in their eyes. Have a meaningful conversation! This is what you’re here on the earth for… to be with people you love.

Life is a series of experiences, good and bad. Those experiences are often worries about future and depression about the past. Let go of that, at least for a little while. Come out of your head and give living in the present a try. Give mindfulness a try. Observe, accept and let go. It’s a positive way to react with your day to day life.

By the way, I decided not to make that day, a few weeks back, into a busy day. I dropped all my plans, grabbed my camera, the zen papa and my bike and rode off to be mindful in nature. I still got a lot done in the afternoon but not with stress and worry. Having a morning of mindfulness changed my day into something special. Here are a few of the pictures from that mindful morning:

Raindrops #1

Ladybug:leaf

Mexican Hat Wildflowers

Yellow:Black Dragonfly

“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.”
― Jon Kabat-Zinn

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24 Responses to How A Morning Of Mindfulness Can Change Your Day

  1. Megan says:

    Needed this. Summer it seems is busier than the school week and it seems like it comes to an end faster each year.
    Your pictures are beautiful. You should print them with sayings on the back to help those of us who are working on our mindfulness!

    Enjoy!
    Megan

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Megan,
    So glad this was a helpful post. I completely agree about busy summers. Your kids are at an age where it’s hard to find time to fit in everything summer has to offer. I often wonder what happened to the summers where we just spent time building a fort and running through the sprinklers. Maybe all of us need a little of that in the summer.
    Thanks for your comment!!

    PS I’d be happy to print out any saying you see and like!

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Go to my Zen Mama FB page and you’ll see lots of posters I’ve created! I’d be glad to print any for you!

    [Reply]

  2. Hi Betsy! Thank you once again for these excellent reminders. While many of us have heard these before, I personally can’t hear them enough. And your photos helped to make the “focus” so much clearer. ~Kathy

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Kathy,
    I know! I have to constantly remind myself to be mindful. Love your use of the word “focus”!
    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!!

    [Reply]

  3. Cathy says:

    Love your pictures, Betsy and your wise words about mindfulness. It has come mainstream if there is an article in Costco Magazine! I think I saw that one as well. Great that you were able to take a break and enjoy the day. I know I need to do more of that in a conscious manner as well. Great reminder!

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Cathy,
    So glad you enjoyed the pictures and the post. I have to constantly be aware that I’m practicing mindfulness everyday!
    Thanks for the comment!

    [Reply]

  4. Hi Betsy,
    This is such a beautiful post! I love all your tips, especially #1. Somehow using your five senses everyday activates that sixth sense pretty easily and then well, there is magic in every day :)
    The pictures are gorgeous Betsy! Wow!
    Lots of love,
    Z~

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Zeenat,
    Thank you! Waking up the senses is an essential for me. I always seem to have my senses when we’re traveling. Then at home, I get caught up in the everyday so I have to remind myself.
    So glad you liked the pictures!!
    xoxo

    [Reply]

  5. Melissa says:

    Loving this post Betsy. If I make it a conscious effort to start my day off with mindfulness and set my intentions for that day it’s almost always a great day. I wonder why I still can forget at times? Hmmmm… Love the images on this page as well, Beautiful!

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Melissa,
    I know! Isn’t it crazy that we fall back into our busy lives so easier?
    That’s why I wrote the post… partly for me to remember.
    So glad you enjoyed the images!! Thanks! And thanks for leaving a comment as well!!

    [Reply]

  6. Hi Betsy,

    They say ‘well begun is half done’…so if we begin our morning the way you have described here, the day would be full of self-fulfilment and peace.
    The best mindfulness for me is spending some time in the lap of Nature – just observe the dewdrops, the flowers the birds and look up at the sky, which fills our heart and soul with matching serenity! I liked reading all the other tips too and try to assimilate them.
    Thanks for your lovely words.

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Balroop,
    We sound like we have a lot in common with spending time in nature. It’s the place that fills my soul, too!
    So glad you enjoyed! I always enjoy our “conversations”. Thanks for your comment!

    [Reply]

  7. Elle says:

    Hi Betsy, I so needed this reminder. There are days when I have to turn away from all those distractions in order to start my day off in the way I want it to continue. :-)

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Elle,
    So glad for giving the reminder! If only we could start every day without distractions. What a peaceful world that would be!
    And always happy to see your name here!!
    Thanks for the comment!

    [Reply]

  8. Hey Betsy,
    Mind blowing photos!!! Wow.

    I love your posts. Did you write and take any of your garden this year or did I miss them? Thanks for filling your space with joy! xo

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Thanks Tess!
    I haven’t recently had any of the garden this year…not sure why! My summer has been filled and I’m trying mindfulness as a way to balance out the busyness! But my garden is thriving thanks to all the rain we’ve had this summer. I have tons of veggies and flowers. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!!

    [Reply]

  9. Hi Betsy
    Mindfulness is essentially a state when there is “no-mind”.
    Its just the reality ,the Presence at that moment.
    In fact there is no moment either.
    There is nothing other than existence.And the deepest level of experience.
    Yet as busy as we are,these moments are fleeting events.Like an unseen butterfly.
    Taking time out for ourselves,to meditate, certainly sharpens our senses;so that we transcend them for a better ,enriched experience.
    Love your post.Keep posting more.
    Lots of folks need this stuff to “un-clutch” a chattering mind.
    Thanks
    Mona

    [Reply]

  10. Great post, Betsy. I love tip #3 and have heard it expressed as “Rise, Pee, Meditate” or RPM. It’s wonderful that mindfulness is getting more attention and that people are becoming comfortable with more time spent in stillness.

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Sandy,
    I love that saying! RPM… I’ll remember for the next time. I love that mindfulness is becoming more mainstream, too.
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting!!

    [Reply]

  11. Those are fantastic pictures. You are quite the photographer : D. Thanks for the six tips. I try to practice mindfulness. It is something I learned through DBT and you are right that it is very helpful. I find that washing the dishes for some reason is really soothing.

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Sebastian,
    So glad you stopped by and enjoyed the post. I, too, have tried to use the dishes as a way to relax. I read some advice from someone who had cancer: appreciate the ordinary things like washing dishes and doing laundry. I’ve tried to appreciate both form then on.
    Thanks for the comment!

    [Reply]

  12. Their advice makes sense. Your comment just made me think that much of our life is mainly made up of the little things in life such as showering, cleaning, doing laundry, so why shouldn’t we appreciate them : D.

    [Reply]

  13. lynne says:

    Hi , a very timely piece…. being mindful is such a great idea, i guess everybody should learn to practice this, it gives you a sense of calmness and peace. Thanks for sharing.

    [Reply]

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