“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.” ~Eckhart Tolle
Presence. It’s something that used to be an absolute mystery to me.
During my five years working in the fast-paced world of public relations, I was frequently running from one meeting to the next, nose in my cell phone, barely coming up for air and completely oblivious to the world around me.
Little did I know, I was missing out on so many moments during my day where I could feel grounded, grateful, and present instead of stressed out and anxious.
Today, life is much different. I strive to feel present on a daily basis, and while there are still moments where I’m challenged, I’ve found that with commitment and practice, it’s possible to weave small moments of mindfulness into my day.
I love meditation, but mindfulness doesn’t always have to be closed-eyes, cross-legged experience, either. I’ve found it really helpful to tie my mindfulness practice to everyday activities.
Here are five places where you can find presence as you go about your daily routine.
Drinking your morning coffee
It’s a fair assumption that we all look forward to our morning cup of joe—and as a Brit, I confess I am partial to a cup of tea first thing in the morning. This may not seem like the obvious place to create a spiritual practice, but it’s almost perfect.
It’s one of the first things you do when you step out of bed and it sets the tone for your day. You can continue racing through this simple activity, if you wish, or you can set aside five minutes (set an alarm on your cell phone) and sit down with your coffee and just be.
Leave your cell phone alone. Don’t check social media. Ignore your email. Just take in the flavors and aroma of your morning beverage and enjoy the moment.
In the shower
My absolute favorite morning ritual is a long shower, and it’s the perfect place to relax and be free. Left unchecked, however, this morning routine can provide a breeding ground for your mind racing through the day’s laundry list of tasks and ‘what ifs.’
Bring your mind back into the present by becoming aware of the physical sensations of the water on your skin and the smell of the shampoo in your hair. Feel grateful that you have access to fresh, clean water. Breathe in. Relax.
When you step out of the shower, you will feel rejuvenated not only physically, but in your mind and spirit, too.
Commuting to work
Traveling to the office doesn’t have to be a ho-hum activity; it can be an opportunity to fit in a mini-meditation. And granted, this does depend on which mode of transport you take to work and it typically fits a bus or train ride best.
All you need to do is this—close your eyes and breathe deeply. It sounds simple, I know, but it makes the world of difference.
If you’re driving, you will of course need to stay alert and aware at all times, so use this as your meditation. Turn off the radio, allow your thoughts to fall away, and simply focus on driving your car as you take in the sights and sensations around you. For me, driving feels incredibly grounding.
Waiting in line
Forever short on time during my PR days, I would rush to the bank during my lunch break and inevitably become stressed out at the sight of the long line. I would huff and puff, check my cell phone, and generally panic as I felt my heart rate increase and noticed beads of sweat form on my brow.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Instead of feeling frustrated at the wait time, take it as an opportunity to relax. Look around you. Connect with your fellow human beings. Smile at the person in line next to you. It can be a simple and beautiful experience.
I truly believe exercise is a spiritual practice, but if you’re attending a class at the gym after work, it’s so easy to let your mind race and mull over the events of the day and run through your to-do list for the evening.
Instead, be mindful of which parts of your body you are working and focus on that. Bring your attention to your legs, your shoulders, the muscles in your back. Not only is this meditative, but it also helps bring focus to your workout and improve your form. It’s a win-win.
By applying these tips, you will invite presence into even the most mundane of daily chores. This not only transforms each moment an opportunity for stillness, it also helps you to be less stressed and more peaceful, no matter what is happening around you.
Woman meditating image via Shutterstock