By: Nina Smiley, Ph.D., Director of Mindfulness Programming, Mohonk Mountain House
Bring Mindfulness Into Your Daily Routine
The benefits of mindfulness are many. It boosts the immune system, heightens focus, and can reduce anger, insomnia, and depression – yet finding the time to meditate can feel daunting. Instead of trying to find 20 minutes each day (along with a tranquil setting!), you can make mindfulness “manageable” by bringing it into your daily routine. Even three minutes of meditation at a time can strengthen the neural paths associated with clarity, insight, and calm, and once the habit becomes ingrained, so do the benefits.
My meditation classes at Mohonk Mountain House teach individuals how to bring mindfulness to everyday activities. Whether you’re washing your hands, walking up stairs, or eating a meal, life’s simple tasks offer opportunities to slow down, embrace the moment, and live fully in the present. Start by breathing in a slow, relaxed rhythm. Focus on your breath as it enters and leaves the body; notice how your belly moves with each inbreath and outbreath. If worries or thoughts interrupt your concentration, try to acknowledge them without judgment and let them go. Then, return to your breath. Again. And again…
Every Mindful Moment Counts
Mohonk Mountain House’s meditation classes show how every mindful moment counts. Just as repetitions of certain exercises build physical muscle, practicing mindfulness builds Mental Muscle: the ability to stay calm in any situation. When you are standing in a line or stuck in traffic, put this inconvenience to use by meditating. Breathe from the center, be fully present in the moment, and try to accept and let go of those events and forces that are beyond your control. Little by little, your Mental Muscle will grow.
Putting off mindfulness meditation may be tempting. Excuses often include lack of free time or not having the “right” space, but these are not obstacles to the mini-meditations that fit right into your life. Meditation can be done any place, at any moment, and the health benefits – both physical and mental – are tangible. If you can find time to breathe, you can find the time to meditate. And there’s no better time to start than right now!