There are many ways to adopt a more mindful attitude in your day-to-day routine. As a start point see if you can perform a mundane task in a mindful way. For example, brushing your teeth, try to be fully present for the few minutes this everyday task takes. See if you can really feel the sensations of brushing, the feel of the toothbrush bristles, the taste of the toothpaste; notice the differences between cleaning the back teeth and the front ones. When the mind wanders off the task, as it inevitably will, gently and kindly remind you to be present again.
Being mindful in everyday ways is a great way to bring the mind into what is known in mindfulness as ‘being mode’. Most of our waking lives our minds are more likely to be found to be in ‘doing mode’; we live very much on auto-pilot, often constantly leaning forward into ‘what’s next’. It is interesting, as it is the tendency of the mind to automate tasks, it does this in order to free-up space for other things; sometimes this is helpful – for example, driving is an automated task, we do it automatically allowing the mind to be free to think or plan. Living our lives constantly on ‘auto-pilot’ and in ‘doing mode’ however, is detrimental to our well-being, and has the tendency to increase stress. We often find our minds focussing on the past, or thinking about the future if we are suffering from depression or anxiety this past or future focus is experienced through the lens of the illness, gloomy or fearful views.
A typical depressive style of thinking is to ruminate over regretful or hurtful past events. Anxiety is often typified by the dreaded ‘what if’ thinking and a tendency to focus on worst case scenarios. These styles of thinking are often habitual and reactive, we feel that we have no control over them and get easily hooked in.
We can find respite from rumination and worry when we practice bringing the mind into ‘being mode’; try eating a meal mindfully, walking mindfully in nature, really listening to a nice piece of music, or taking a mindful shower. Also, tasks that concentrate the mind are naturally quite mindful; for example, the current popularity of mindful coloring books for adults is due to the fact that the process is inherently mindful.