10 Tips for Mindful Living

Bring the benefits of meditation to your daily life.
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Practicing Mindfulness

Woman reading newspaper
Practice mindfulness in all
of your day's activities.

The benefits of meditation -- awareness and a feeling of calm -- can be achieved by engaging in what's called "mindfulness." Mindfulness can help us develop patience, trust in ourselves and others, and openness. Here are 10 ways to practice mindful living throughout your day:

1. With your child. "While bathing your child, notice whether you're thinking of other things or rushing the ritual. See if you can 'show up' for this experience," suggests Katherine Bonus, founder of the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics. "If you allow stress or distractions to impact the way you touch and talk to your child, you may be fueling a very different and unintentional experience for yourself and your child."

The payoff: A safer, more satisfying experience; creating a special memory for you both.

2. With a friend, spouse, or coworker. When you find yourself wanting to prematurely end a conversation, examine what it is about the exchange that is causing you to want to move on. Are you anxious to find a "better," more exciting conversation partner? Are you thinking about something else? Instead, make an effort to fully listen and then react honestly to what the other person is saying.

The payoff: Becoming a better listener, knowing yourself, and building patience.

3. With a stranger. Become aware of the judgments you automatically form on a flimsy basis. "For example, if the person you encounter is attractive to you, do you immediately start to assign positive attributes to him and create a mental storyline about him?" asks Bonus. The opposite can be true, as well, when you meet someone you're not attracted to. Try to be aware of your reactions.

The payoff: A less judgmental mindset. If you suspend opinions before you get to know someone, you're open to the opportunity of seeing that person for who he or she really is.

4. During exercise. Note when your breathing becomes labored, when your temperature rises, and when fatigue or pain sets in.

The payoff: The more tuned in you are to physical cues when placing extra demands on your body, the more familiar you'll become with your body's limits; knowing your physical boundaries can help you respect them and, if you want, gently push them.

5. At work. For one minute each hour, stop everything you're doing and focus only on your breath.

The payoff: Not only are you giving your mind a chance to take a break (just as you'd give your body a rest after hiking for an hour), but you return to your work refreshed. "Letting go of a stressful situation and allowing yourself to just 'be' for a moment can bring about a new perspective and give rise to a solution," says Dan Howard, Spiritual Awareness Coordinator at Canyon Ranch, a resort located in Lenox, Massachusetts. "It's like trying to remember someone's name, only to remember it later when we're not thinking about it."

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