Practicing Mindfulness outside of Meditation

Buddhist monks do not only swear on meditation, but they also bring mindfulness into their daily cleaning tasks. By putting all energy into these tasks, they are completed more efficiently, while also creating a relaxing state of mind.
Picture source: https://tricycle.org/trikedaily/meditation-chogyam-trungpa/

One key aspect that really helped my mental health was being mindful, which I first started practicing through meditation and Wim Hof breathing. I feel like mindfulness is often talked about nowadays, but always in the context of mindfulness meditation – While that is a key to become more mindful in general, I feel like there are many activities we do on the daily, where we can continue training a mindful mind. So, here are some activities I started completing with my full attention to the process. After all, mindfulness is simply the act of being present in the moment 🙂

Exercise

Do you run with music or do you focus on the experience?
Picture source: https://www.runnersworld.com/training/a28555402/fixing-your-running-form/

I used to distract myself when exercising by listening to up-beat music or distracting podcasts, so that I don’t have to focus on the physical and mental difficulty of the task. But in terms of improving your fitness levels and exercise mindset, it is really helpful to focus on what exactly you are experiencing while e.g. going for a run – What is your breathing rhythm like? How do you automatically move your arms? When do your feet touch the ground? By bringing your attention to your current state, you become much more aware of how exercise affects you and your body!

Painting

Maybe Bob’s calm mind is due to him being fully present while painting? If you don’t paint, you can practice mindfulness while consciously listening to him beating the devil out of his brushes instead.
Picture source: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-bob-ross-everyones-favorite-art-teacher

Another hobby of mine that I used to take as an opportunity to do while listening to music. Nowadays, however, I find there is nothing more relaxing than listening to brush strokes on a canvas and watching your painting take form. Maybe Bob Ross manifested this fascination of mine 🙂

Eating

If this is what you look like when eating, but you are fond of becoming more mindful, this is your chance to change a habit! Just put that phone down, it’s not too difficult 😛
Picture source: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/may/06/table-for-one-how-eating-alone-changing-our-diets

Nowadays it seems quite common that people are either on their phones or watch TV while eating. I find that to be a pretty unhealthy habit, and if you manage to solely focus on the eating experience, you are not just helping your physical health but are also training your meditative mind! I know it sounds silly, but give it a try 🙂 Realising how many distractions influence our mind is the first step to simply being.

Pretty much any activity really

Wherever you are, be there totally

Eckhart Tolle

Well, to conclude – Anything you do can be done mindfully. And why would you want to do that? Because your brain is like a muscle, and the more mindfulness you practice during simple daily activities or hobbies, the easier it gets to be mindful when you become anxious. Even something like brushing your teeth or doing the dishes, doing it while being fully present in the moment does not only help better completion of the task, but also shapes your mind.

When bringing mindfulness into your daily life, it will become much easier to meditate over time. While I think meditation itself is great, if you keep dwelling and pondering while completing simple tasks, your continuously wandering mind might become unhelpful to your mental health. So, I encourage to take off those headphones, put your phone down and simply listen and feel. And if your mind wanders – Notice and bring it back 🙂

The Key to Improving your Anxiety – Do What Makes you Anxious (and stop excessively washing your hands)

After a little break from technology I am back with some new blog post ideas and a calmer mindset, yay 🙂 I originally meant for this blog to be aimed at people with emetophobia, as the resources I found on other blogs when I was suffering with it were pretty unhelpful and actually made my phobia worse.
In short – The phobia revolves around vomit, and the tips I saw online to ‘help it’ were mostly just advice on how to avoid vomiting or seeing vomit in every situation. That is not only unrealistic and unhealthy, but is exactly the kind of advice someone who is desperate to never face their fear looks out for. Only, that it reinforces vomit to be something to be scared of and the phobia cycle continues (I have outlined this in a prior blog post).

Face what you fear (maybe not dangerous animals though, as they could actually kill you… How about starting with irrational anxieties?)
Image source: https://coreaspect.org/way-for-facing-your-fears-and-bounce-back/

Anywho, I have recovered from my phobia by slowly doing things that make me nervous or anxious. But I feel like this applies to all types of anxiety – You need to do what makes you anxious for you to realise it really is nothing to be anxious about, which is also empowering in itself. The thing is, it is really uncomfortable in the moment; You might cry, maybe you’ll have a panic attack, but I promise you, you will not die, and over time you will decrease your suffering!

Let’s take a personal example of mine: Washing one’s hands! Even though I have pretty much overcome my phobia, this was still a big topic in my life the past few months. When people around me did not wash their hands before cooking or after going to the bathroom, I would not only get uncomfortable but I might even start a fight. I would cry a few tears and possibly insult their hygiene as a way to protect myself and make my fear of germs seem valid. But making them wash their hands will only validate germs as a bad thing, and it could even harm them mentally and physically when excessively done! That made me realise, my thoughts and behaviour were catastrophic and obsessive – Yes, washing your hands is important, but it’s not as dramatic as my mind made it out to be.

Let’s be honest, today’s society has huge (ridiculous) hygiene standards of constantly using antibacterial gels and wipes. That is important for some settings, but for the typical person with a fear of germs, this can become excessive and unhealthy. Where do we draw the line?
Image source: https://www.cdc.gov/features/handwashing/index.html

This past month I faced my fear of not having ‘clean’ hands very dramatically by pretty much only washing them when they were visibly dirty (and most toilet breaks). Of course, washing your hands after going to the toilet is a hygienic standard, but I am glad I can calmly go take a pee-break at night without having to worry in bed that I did not wash my hands. Might sound gross, but hey I’m still alive and healthy and my excessive worry is gone too!

So – The only way I got over my excessive worry about my own and other people’s hand-washing behaviours was by drastically changing mine to be what I very much feared. Yes, I was uncomfortable and felt dirty, but living through the after effects of not having overly cleansed hands and seeing I was fine, reinforced that my worry was simply unhelpful and false. Doing what makes you anxious is the empowering challenge you might need, to show yourself how strong you are. It’s all about believing in yourself and being patient 🙂