It seems like every month that goes by I am left thinking, “Where did the time go??” I look back and sometimes struggle to remember my daily interactions and accomplishments. Instead I am left with this blur of time in my life’s rear view mirror. I have written a lot about mindfulness on Citrus & Sun, but a simple yet profound takeaway from a book that I recently read has changed my entire practice of mindfulness in my daily life.
Photo by Studio Eiler @studioeiler
“Mindfulness frees us of forgetfulness and dispersion and makes it possible for us to live fully each minute of life. Mindfulness enables us to live.” -Thich Nhat Hanh
This quote is taken from The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh, a book that I recently read as a part of my yoga teacher training program. This statement above is so powerful and only confirms just how important mindfulness is to our daily existence. Without mindfulness, we are simply floating through life trying to reach the next destination, the next Friday night, the next accomplished goal, and the next sunny day. Time moves fast and we are left wondering where it has gone and how we have let it pass by so quickly.
Trust me, I’ve been there.
Even with the help of writing this blog and constantly trying to live my life finding zest and light in all of those small moments, one connector was missing: simple daily mindfulness.
Rethinking the Concept of Time.
In The Miracle Of Mindfulness, the author speaks of an individual who discovers how to have more time in his day by changing the way he actually views his time. This individual spoke about how in the past he had divided his time into several parts: helping his children with schoolwork, time spent on household work, etc. Any time left over he considered his own. If we all viewed time this way, that time that’s actually our own would probably be a tiny fraction.
He then goes on to explain how a simple shift in mindset and incorporating mindfulness actually gave him more time in his day. Now instead of viewing each part of his day as separate time slots for different things, he views every single thing he does as his OWN time:
“I consider my time with Joey and Sue as my own. When I help Joey with his homework, I try to find ways of seeing his time as my own. I go through his lessons with him, sharing his presence and finding ways to be interested in what we do during that time. The time for him becomes my own time. The same with Sue. The remarkable thing is that now I have unlimited time for myself!” (Miracle of Mindfulness, pg. 2)
This shift in perspective completely blew my mind!
So often we compartmentalize our time into different boxes. We have our time at work which, for many of us, is most of the hours in our day. If we have kids we spend time driving them to practices or school. We spend time cleaning and cooking meals. Some of us might be in a season where we are caring for a loved one. Some of us are in school or sports. We might find ourselves saying that we “have no time,” or we look at that small fraction of time before we go to bed as the only time that is our own.
I have found myself discouraged with this perspective and have moments when I hear those phrases creep into my head: “Time is moving so fast,” or “I wish I had more time for myself.” After considering this new “mindful perspective” of time, I realized that I am spending my time exactly how I should be in this season of my life, however I am not always being fully present and owning it as MY time.
Be engaged in your life. Be present and purposeful in your actions, your words, and your thoughts at all times throughout your day. You will find that you actually have more time in your day for yourself than you think you do!
5 Places In Your Day To Use Mindfulness
Through my yoga teacher training program I was challenged to participate in one full day of mindfulness. I attempted and I failed. HARD. While I was unable to practice mindfulness for the entire day, I continued to find small parts of my day to take back as my own time.
If we can start by adding small moments of mindfulness into our day and looking at that time as our own, this practice will become more natural and will begin to overflow into other moments. Below are five places in my day where I have tried to incorporate more mindfulness along with some helpful tips I’ve learned throughout my practice.
1. My Morning Routine
- Pass on the temporary bliss of the snooze button. Instead, engage in a BIG morning stretch and take up as much space as your body will let you. Acknowledge the fact that you are tired and then ground your feet on the floor one at a time. You’ve got this.
- Breathe through your morning routines. Make your coffee, brush your hair, put on your makeup and just BREATHE. When you begin thinking about that email that you need to send out or are tempted to start scrolling through social media as you are brushing your teeth (guilty), go back to your breath. These routines are actually moments of self-care that we should fully enjoy and acknowledge.
- Set an intention for your day. This could be one word or a simple phrase that you want to carry around with you throughout the rest of the day. I wrote a blog post on setting a morning intention here.
2. My Lunch Break
- When eating, just eat. Put the computer and phone away, even if only for 5-10 minutes and just eat. Typing that email will be a lot easier later when you can give it your full attention and have fully enjoyed a meal.
- Listen to your body when it is hungry or thirsty. I am so guilty of powering through hunger and not stopping to provide my body with the energy or hydration it needs to function properly. Be mindful when your body is telling you to stop and refuel, even if that just means taking a sip of water.
- Express gratitude to yourself for putting your meal together. If you had your lunch delivered, take a moment to quietly thank the restaurant or team of people who prepared and delivered the food you are eating. Moments of gratitude are some of the best ways to experience mindfulness in our day.
3. Throughout The Work Day
- Try to do one task at a time and really focus. We live in a day where multitasking is almost essential in order to meet deadlines and feel accomplished in our workday. This is when quality suffers not just with tasks but with communication as well. Doing one thing at a time and having our mind fully present can give the tasks that we do and the conversations that we have more quality and depth that is more meaningful in the long run.
- Take a breath before you speak. This is actually a routine that I have been practicing for a while now. I’m able to express exactly what I want to say in the way I want to come across in conversation. Just that slight pause and inhale can help you collect your thoughts and shift your attitude.
- Simply remind yourself that your job is YOUR time. How you engage with tasks, the way you treat others, and your attitude are all reflections of how you are spending a big chunk of your day.
- Relax your body as your walk. When we are walking we are usually on the move to somewhere and want to get there fast. Notice any tension in your shoulders, neck, head, or jaw and release. Enjoy the journey!
- Breathe. Your body is in motion so it’s important to pay attention to that breath! Create a breathing pattern for yourself with your steps and try to follow this as your feet are traveling.
- Look up and take in the world. Literally say in your head what your eyes are seeing, what your ears are hearing, and what your nose is smelling. Acknowledge the fact that you are warm or cold, or maybe just the perfect temperature. Most of all, look up! You will find that you will remember your walk more vividly when you look back on your day.
5. Nightly Meditation
If there is ONE thing that you can do in your day I would suggest pure meditation. Reserve a 5-10 minute chunk out of your evening to be with your breath and your self. It is one of the most cleansing things that you can do for your mind. Find a comfortable seat, relax your body, and pay attention to every inhale and exhale. I use the Daily Calm’s 10 minute guided meditation through the Calm App to help me work meditation into my daily routine. I find my mind to be more settled when it is finally time for sleep.
Your Time Is Now
If there is anything that you take away from this blog post let it be this: Every moment of your day is YOUR time. Be engaged in your life. Be present and purposeful in your actions, your words, and your thoughts at all times throughout your day. You will find that you actually have more time in your day for yourself than you think you do!
Wishing you zest & light,
*I highly recommend investing in the book The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh! This book has changed my life in so many simple yet profound ways. It will inspire you to find new ways to incorporate mindfulness and meditation into your daily life and will even help you discover ways you are already doing both!
I am open to discussing more about my experience with this book and my journey so far with mindfulness and meditation. Comment your thoughts below or email me directly at Stephanie@citrusandsun.com so that we can connect! =)