"You don't have to become a monk or a vegetarian or spend hours contemplating your navel."

Not that there is anything wrong with those things... but the goal of mindfulness and meditation is to simply notice your mind's busyness and not get all tangled up in it. This simple process truly can help you break free of knee-jerk, "autopilot" habits -- the ones where you say to yourself minutes or months later, "Why did I do or say that?!" -- and move forward into a healthier, more vibrant life.

Here are 7 easy ways to become mindful in your daily life (adapted from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/06/09/7-easy-ways-to-be-mindful-every-day):

1. Practice Mindfulness during routine activities: Pay more attention as you’re brushing your teeth, taking a shower, eating breakfast or walking to work. Zero in on the sight, sound, smell, taste and feel of these activities.

2. Practice right when you wake up: Mindfulness practice first thing in the morning helps set the ‘tone’ of your nervous system for the rest of the day, increasing the likelihood of other mindful moments. Put off reading the paper, turning on the TV, checking your phone or email, etc. until after you’ve had your ‘sit'.

3. Let your mind wander: The beneficial brain changes seen in the neuroscience research on mindfulness are thought to be promoted in large part by the act of noticing that your mind has wandered, and then non-judgmentally – lovingly [and] gently - bringing it back.

4. Keep it short:  Being mindful several times a day can be more helpful than a lengthy session or even a weekend retreat.  While 20 minutes seems to be the gold standard, starting at a few minutes a day is OK, too. 

5. Practice while you wait: While waiting (in line, traffic, etc.) can seem like a nuisance, use it as an opportunity for mindfulness.  Bring your attention to your breath. Focus on the flow of the breath in and out of your body, from moment to moment and allow everything else to just be, even if what’s there is impatience or irritation.

6. Pick a prompt to remind you to be mindful: Choose a cue that you encounter on a regular basis to shift your brain into mindful mode. For instance, you might pick a certain doorway or mirror or use drinking coffee or tea as a reminder.

7. Learn to meditate: The best way to cultivate mindfulness in everyday life is to formally train in meditation. Practicing mindfulness is like learning a new language. “You can’t just decide to be fluent in Spanish – unless you already are – you have to learn the language first.”  “Practicing meditation is how to learn the language of mindfulness.” 

**Contact me for further details about a Meditation course at my office this spring (2013)!