THE BLOG

Mindfulness in '0 Seconds'

28/10/2015 09:55 GMT | Updated 27/10/2016 10:12 BST

People often say that the reason they don't practice mindfulness is that they don't have the time. This is understandable; our modern lives are indeed busy.

But just as brushing our teeth is important to keep our teeth clean and just as exercising a couple of times a week keeps our bodies in form, a daily mindfulness practice is important for taking care of our mental well-being.

That's why it's useful to know how to practice mindfulness in no extra time ('0 Seconds'), by combining it with daily habits such as brushing your teeth, having a shower, eating meals, commuting and walking. Not needing any extra time to practice is a great way to make sure we get started.

Here are some practical examples of '0 Seconds Mindfulness':

Walk + Mindfulness: Every time you go for a walk, try to become fully present for a couple of moments. Connect with all your senses: smell the air, feel the wind on your skin and ... just walk. Notice every step that you take. You might, for example, breathe in when taking a step with your right foot and breathe out when taking a step with your left foot. Notice how it feels to adjust the pace of walking to the pace of your breathing. Whenever you notice your mind wandering into thinking, just gently return to the present moment experience of simply walking.

Lunch + Gratitude: Before or during each meal spend a few seconds consciously feeling grateful for having food on your plate. Bring to mind where the food has come from. If you are having pasta you might want to think of the farmer and his family that grew the wheat, and the lorry driver who brought the wheat to the factory. Think about all the people who were involved in the process of designing the pasta and its packaging. You might also feel grateful for the fact that you are wealthy enough to have food on your plate every day, or you might be grateful that you are such a great cook and can make amazing pasta! As you bring up such thoughts and images of gratitude, you might notice that you feel a warm fuzzy feeling in your body. You might even place your hand onto your heart. Many people notice that this gesture increases a feeling of gratitude.

Brushing Teeth + Something Good: In the evening when you brush your teeth, make a habit of bringing to mind one good thing that happened that day. Maybe you had a wonderful conversation with a friend, someone gave you a gift, or even something like noticing the beautiful blue sky. Whatever it is, close your eyes, bring the situation to mind and stay with that mental image for a few moments. Let it sink into every cell of your body. If it makes it easier, you could even close your eyes. When you're done, open your eyes again and finish brushing your teeth until they are really clean.

If you can establish a routine of linking your daily habits with simple mindfulness practices, you will soon make mindfulness an integral part of your life. But there's also another positive side effect. Once you've for example practiced 'Brushing Teeth + Something Good' for a few days/weeks, every time you brush your teeth, you will automatically start to think of something good. It will become part of your teeth-brushing nature. Is there a better way to finish your day than remembering a good thing and having clean teeth when going to bed?

Disclaimer: Although '0 Second Mindfulness' is a wonderful practice, it is meant as an add-on and not a replacement to formal meditation practice.