Zen and the Art of Living in the Present Moment

Six mindfulness exercises to help you relax and live in the moment, from wake up to bedtime.

When we think about mindfulness, many of us think of yoga and meditation. While these healthy habits are definitely worth incorporating into our wellness routine, they take time to cultivate. Whether you’re new to the concept of mindfulness, or simply want to build your practice with easy, small steps, here are six ways to tweak your routine to help you be more peaceful and present all day long.


sunrise meditation

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Morning Mindfulness

Make the Bed

Making your bed is a “keystone” habit; completing this simple, two-minute task sets you up for a significantly more productive, less stressful day. Not only does it vastly improve the look of your bedroom (making you feel calmer), but it sets off a chain reaction of task-completion that will propel you through your to-do list and keep that accomplishment buzz going.

Enjoy a Coffee/Tea Ritual

Think about your usual weekday morning cuppa. You’re checking email, Twitter, reading the news. That’s hardly a relaxing way to start your day. Instead, take the time to really savor the flavors and aromas of your morning coffee or tea, letting your brain wake up without the stresses of a work emergency or an anxiety-inducing headline.

 

 

Enjoying the fresh air

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Afternoon Awareness

Stand, Stretch, Move

If you spend your day at a desk, you’re likely familiar with the perils of too much sitting. Throughout your workday, make a point to check in with your body every hour and get moving—even if it’s just to stand up and stretch. Set alarms on your phone or fitness tracker to remind you to move throughout the day. These small breaks not only increase productivity (like pushing a “reset” button in your brain), but they encourage you to treat your body with respect—reinforcing healthy habits all day long.

Eat Lunch Mindfully

Like morning coffee, a weekday lunch is often something we hurry to get out of the way so that we can get back to work. Use this time to take a real break—leave behind your phone and eat anywhere but your desk. Take your lunch outside, or meet a friend in the cafeteria or break room. If you’re by yourself, simply savor the food in front of you instead of trying to multitask. Whether you eat alone or with company, you’ll return to your desk in a better mood—and better able to focus on the task at hand.

 

 

Evening Meditation - Evening Engagement

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Evening Engagement 

Reconnect with Family

It’s easy to fall into couch potato mode at day’s end, but consider what you’ll value at the end of your life: watching Friends for the bazillionth time, or quality time spent with your family? Turn off the TV for even just a half hour to play a game, do a craft, or simply talk. If you’ve got fur-babies at home, turn the post-work walk into quality time at the park. If you live alone, call a friend (or your mom—she’ll love it). You’ll be taking charge of your happiness, and strengthening your most important relationships. Best of all, you’ll be spending quality time being present with those you love.

Create a Bedtime Ritual

Winding down before bed is essential to a good night’s rest. Begin by dimming the lights and turning off all those screens at least a half hour before lights out. Try a restorative yoga sequence, aromatherapy, or a guided sleep meditation. These rituals all help signal to our brain that it’s time to slow down and relax, and deep, quality sleep improves our mood, our health, and mental clarity, setting us up for an even better tomorrow.

When you’re ready to take your mindfulness practice to the next level, pick up Ram Dass’s classic, Be Here Now. With over 150 pages of metaphysical illustrations, and practical advice on how to implement a yogic regiment, Be Here Now is sure to enrich your emotional, physical, and spiritual life.

 

 

 

Illustration Credit: Marie Guillard

 


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