Mindfulness: A Practice for When You Don’t Have Time to Practice

I hear myself and others saying, “Where did the time go?” I’ll look up, and the sky will already be dimming. Or my alarm rings me awake. Or the to-do list grows a foot longer.

There is so much happening in us and around us every day. Many of us find an hour of two of calm and focus on the mat, but what if you could have that throughout your day? No mat or leggings required? Even if you were sick or injured and couldn’t do your usual practice?

A mindfulness practice can help us stretch time. When we are more present and aware, suddenly the same amount of time that was previously packed with multitasking can feel spacious. An everyday experience can become as interesting as a trip to a new country.

That’s just one reason it’s good for our mental health. Since our mind tends to time travel into the past or the future, mindfulness can help us move out of rumination about past regrets or worry and anxiety about the future. A toned mindfulness muscle helps us make conscious choices about our actions rather than falling into impulsive behaviors. In fact, mindfulness has been so helpful for mental health that several types of therapy are based on mindfulness principles and practices.

The body can benefit from mindfulness too. Some studies have found that a regular mindfulness practice can support the immune system. It’s clear that stress has a negative effect on our physical health, and mindfulness is a tool that can help decrease that stress.

Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere, anytime, in a million different ways. It’s free, portable, and no one can even tell you’re doing it. It’s almost like taking a mini-vacation–except that the destination is to be exactly where you are. In an interview with Insights at the Edge, Jon Kabat-Zinn, who created Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and has studied the effects of mindfulness for years, stated that mindfulness “may actually be the only promise the species and the planet have for making it through the next couple hundred years.” Only time will tell whether or not he’s correct, but you can try it for yourself and see if it helps you make it through the next couple weeks.

Here’s one simple step. Today, as you go into somewhere you visit frequently, whether it’s a room in your house or the yoga studio, see if you can notice one thing that you haven’t noticed before. It could be a plant, the way the light falls on the wall, a smell, anything at all. You’ll be one breath closer to creating a more mindful life for yourself.

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