I’ve been meditating regularly for close to two decades. This practice has allowed me to give myself a chance to pause before reacting to situations that present themselves to me. This is such a gift. I don’t know when I realized that I had this ability to pause, but I do know that it has radically changed my level of happiness. It has also helped me to stay calm in times of stress and allowed me to see someone else’s perspective before answering back.
Integrating the ability to PAUSE in my daily life has been very beneficial.
But, what if you don’t have 20 years of meditation under your belt? What if it’s hard for you to meditate? What if you don’t know where to start, but you still need to be able to pause and be mindful in your daily life?
Well, there are ways! There are little things that you can do in your daily life that will help you live more mindfully and help you cultivate your own ability to PAUSE.
- Let’s start with the breath. Breathing is so beneficial, it helps to calm your heart and brain. Here are some things you can do to remind yourself to breathe throughout your day.
- Put a sticky note on your mirror that says BREATHE. Whenever you see it, take a calming breath.
- Set a reminder on your phone to BREATHE. When the notification goes off, take a slow deep breath in, and slowly exhale it out.
- Make a mental cue to BREATHE when you see a certain object. For example, everytime you see a closed door, take a breath before you open the door.
- Next, we’ll go to something most of us do everyday without thinking – walking.
- When you get up in the morning, notice yourself setting your feet on the ground and standing up. Notice how the floor feels under your feet. Notice each step you take, being conscious of how you put each foot on the ground before moving forward. Do you step heel to toe? Is the floor cold?
- When you feel frustrated by a situation, mindfully take 2-5 steps away and back again before reacting. Once again, notice your feet as you walk. Feel the earth supporting each step. See if you can make your steps slow, giving yourself a few moments to pause before coming back to the situation and reacting.
- Schedule a short walk into your day – even if it’s a 5 minute walk. Once again, walk mindfully. This is about the experience, not the destination. It’s not about going anywhere fast. Look around your environment and take in what is around you. This gives you a scheduled break in your day – a scheduled pause – so that you can reset.
- Practice mindful driving (or if you take public transportation, mindful bus or train riding or even bike riding).
- Instead of allowing driving to be a stressful experience, consciously cue yourself to take a soothing breath when you see your car (or bus or train or bike). Breathe again as you start your ignition. Breathe again as you pull into traffic. And continue to breathe….
- Use the opportunity of your drive to take in your surroundings. Notice the different colors of cars on the road, the greenery of the trees that go by in your peripheral vision, how the steering wheel feels in your hands (and how you might be holding the steering wheel).
- Drive with compassion. If you see someone cut you off in traffic (or take your seat on the bus or train), think about how their day must be going. Know that everyone is going through their own experiences, just as we are. Give them a little compassion instead of allowing yourself to get angry at getting cut off. Remember that everyone is trying their best, just like you.
- Look up.
- Every once in a while, remind yourself to look up and look around. We get so engrossed in our lives that we forget to look up.
- If you are working on your computer, lift your eyes away from the screen and take in what is surrounding you.
- If you have been scrolling through apps on your phone or device, look up and reset (and maybe stretch or move your head around to relieve your sore neck from looking down at your phone).
- If you are walking or hiking, take a moment to look around you instead on focusing on the ground. I was reminded of this yesterday when I took a hike. I looked up and noticed the clouds settling around the trees on a misty morning. It was beautiful. It totally lifted my mood and spirits.
“All I know if that my life is better when I assume that people are doing their best. It keeps me out of judgment and lets me focus on what is, and not what should or could be.”
Try integrating one or several of these practices into your everyday and see how they impact you. Maybe you’ll improve your mood, outlook, energy, relationships, or just bring a little bit of calm into your day.
May you have peace within,