I’m scrubbing my face with cleanser, but my mind is elsewhere. I need to swing by the post office on my way home from work; Gotta remember to pick the kids up from school later than usual today because of soccer practice; I need to wash the towels tonight, maybe I can squeeze that in before dinner.
I rinsed and patted my skin dry. I sighed, my anxiety’s already taking hold.
Speaking of, the other day I listened to a podcast about how meditation reduces stress and how even a few moments of mindfulness each day can benefit your health.
I picture myself on a mountaintop in a full lotus position, focusing on my breath. Count the inhale. One. Count the exhale. Two. Count the inhale. Three. Count the exhale. Four. Or something like that.
Oh to live in a state of tranquility and mindfulness. But honestly who has time for meditation? These people must not have kids.
What does mindfulness even mean? And how does it apply to my daily life?
Eastern religions, particularly Buddhism, have shaped the concept of mindfulness, but mindfulness itself is not spiritual and is practiced by people of many different faiths.
Mindfulness is simply a state of mind, or a property of the mind.
It’s often conflated with concentration, attention or awareness. It’s meaning is entangled with attributes like tranquility and peacefulness, and it’s sometimes thought to be an activity like tai chi or meditation.
But mindfulness is its own distinct concept. Meditation is a practice for training mindfulness. By strategically focusing your attention on an object, typically the breath, the mind learns to notice the distinction between being lost in thought and being clearly aware of the state of the mind.
Here’s a definition I found helpful: “A moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment”.
And one more: “Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens”.
Cool. So how does this help me?
Practicing mindfulness meditation has been shown to:
I know. It’s a lot. When I first read all this I thought it was mystical hoodoo. But these benefits are the results of actual studies being done in prestigious universities showing that meditation has a measurable effect on the biochemical and hormonal state of the brain and body. Crazy.
My big takeaway is that adding a little mindfulness to your daily routine helps you be aware of thoughts, emotions and impulses as they arise and accept them with openness and clarity.
And this can lead to greater peace of mind and a more stable, or consistent, emotional life.
Now you’re thinking, ‘sounds great but I have literally no time for this in my busy schedule’. Don’t worry, you don’t have to become a monk to benefit from mindfulness.
There are several practices, other than meditation, that help cultivate mindfulness.
I like the third one. So let’s try this during our favorite activity, our daily skin care routine, obviously.
If you’re like me then your skincare routine has become automatic, so it’s easy to think about all the other things you have to get done that day.
That makes this the perfect opportunity to slow down and notice, without judging.
The next time you’re about to start your nighttime or morning skin care routine, use these cues to help you inject some mindfulness into that time.
When you first start doing this your mind will wander. Thoughts pop up and a minute later you realize you’ve been thinking about your grocery list. That’s okay. Just acknowledge that your mind wandered, and bring your attention back to what you’re doing.
The point is simply to notice what you are experiencing here and now.
Being intentional with this time I spend with myself has, at the very least, helped me enjoy my skin care routine more.
I hope it will do the same for you and, perhaps, much much more.