The Shift Network Blog

7 Daily Mindfulness Practices to Improve Your Health, Happiness & Productivity [+ Video Meditation]
Marjorie MacIntosh
By Marjorie MacIntosh
Shift Team

John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while we are busy making other plans….”

But what would life be like if you were to actually show up and be present in EACH moment?

How much would your life improve if you slowed down to notice the beauty surrounding you — stopping to listen to the birds sing, to smell the coffee roasting in the air, or to enjoy the laughter of a loved one fully and completely — instead of worrying, planning or racing on to your next task?

What would change if you could heighten your awareness of how you experience each moment — and possibly even discover the unconscious habits that may be negatively impacting your health, your wellbeing, and even your relationships?

As an esteemed teacher in meditation, mindfulness and stress reduction, Bob Stahl has seen the tremendous impact that mindfulness has had on so many people’s lives...

...impacts which have ranged from improving a surgeon’s performance on the operating table, to doubling the focus and productivity of one hardworking man, to helping the chronically ill, anxious and depressed to cope with their pain and suffering and increase their enthusiasm for life.

This is why I want to share with you the following 7 simple, yet powerful, mindfulness practices which he personally recommends.

(And below, you’ll also find a short video where he guides you in an exercise which can help you deepen your mindfulness practice.)
 

1.  Stop every so often and just notice your breath.

It’s a good thing our breath runs on an autonomic nervous system because otherwise in our harried lives we might forget to breathe. The act of coming back to the breath is a core mindfulness practice and is incredibly simple. Just stop what you are doing for one moment. Pause and notice your breath. Remember that you are alive, that this is what is here in this moment. Cultivate this practice as often as you like throughout the day.


2.  Accomplish at least one task each day mindfully.

Choose a task each day that you can give your complete and full attention to. It could be brushing your teeth, doing the laundry, or washing the dishes. It could be anything really. Don’t multitask or switch back and forth between tasks. Just do this one task, and put your entire attention into it until it is done.


3.  While driving, become aware of your body.

Where are you holding tension? Are you feeling pain or discomfort anywhere? Are you reacting to other drivers, outside forces, or perhaps the stress in your own mind? Ask yourself “what does it feel like to relax and drive?” See if you can mindfully relax your body into this state.


4.  Be mindful of what you are eating.

Focus completely on your meal when you are eating. Use all of your senses. Notice the color, shape and size of your food. How does it smell, feel and taste? Does your food have a sound? Chew, taste and swallow with awareness. You may find that eating with awareness will change the way you eat entirely.


5.  Let go of worrying about the future & regretting the past.

Bob shares, “I have found that my mind operates frequently in two spheres:  I am either rehearsing or rehashing. That is, I am engulfed in rehashing things which happened in the past, or I am rehearsing for things that may or may not happen the future.” If this resonates with you, you can easily see why learning to let go of worries and regrets is very important for coming back into the present and living mindfully, though it can be a real challenge. (Watch the video below on “Letting Be” to learn a great approach to all those worries and regrets.)


6.  Learn to watch your mind & observe your own thinking.

Bob calls this “minding your mind.” Our thoughts and emotions are directly connected to our physiology and impact our body and ultimately our health. Spend some time noticing throughout the day what thoughts are passing through your mind. What kind of thoughts are you having often? Is your body reacting to these thoughts? Perhaps you are tightening your neck muscles or clenching your jaw in response to stressful parts of your day. Are the the thoughts you are having impacting you in unexpected ways?


7.  Take a few minutes to be quiet & meditate.

Bob refers to this as a “Sabbath moment.” Taking a break during the day to be mindful is a beautiful gift that you can give to yourself that no one else can give to you. Give yourself 1-5 minute breaks regularly each day to check in and be mindful — to become a human being instead of a human doing.


And, for a brief, guided mindfulness check-in and a short teaching on how to handle thoughts and emotions which come up during meditation, I invite you to take a moment to watch Bob’s Stahl’s video on “Letting Be”:
 

 

 


PS - Enjoy the practices and video above? If so, you're invited to download this free, hour-long audio by author and mindfulness teacher Bob Stahl: Mindfulness for Healing: