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5 Ways to be More Mindful Without Meditating

Updated: Dec 17, 2023




Meditation has been a meaningful practice for humans for thousands of years.

Maybe you’ve heard that fact before. Maybe you’ve heard it dozens of times. Maybe you skimmed past that first sentence to see where I’m going with this. Haha!

So I’m going to say it again so that we can pause on it for a minute:

Meditation has been a meaningful practice for humans for thousands of years.

Even our ancient ancestors were looking for ways to cultivate inner peace. That’s pretty incredible, right? And the reason meditation has stayed a practice for so long in so many parts of the world is because it is incredibly, undoubtedly effective.

Way before science could show us why, our fellow humans knew that when they practiced being in the present, they felt better—grounded, calm, focused, balanced, at peace.

In addition to the evidence of people’s lives over generations—in the last 20 to 30 years, we’ve gained the ability to observe what meditation actually does to our brains.

And it’s amazing stuff! Here are just a few of the things research has show us about the benefits of meditating:

  • A team at Harvard found that after just 8 weeks of practicing mindfulness meditation, participants’ brains showed an increase in the size of the hippocampus (the part of the brain that supports memory and learning).

  • Another research team found that after 8 weeks of practicing mindfulness, participants showed a decrease in the size of their amygdalas (the part of our brain responsible for the fight-or-flight response).

  • Over time, meditating on a regular basis preserves grey matter (the structures of your brain where neurons live)—it literally slows the aging process of your brain!

Guys, meditation literally changes our brains—physical, structural, measurable changes!


Mind blowing, right?!?

So, knowing all that, why wouldn’t you harness the power of meditation?

Well, honestly, there are lots of reasons why people don’t, but the biggest one I hear is that people think they’re doing it wrong.

That’s a very personal one for me because that’s exactly the way I felt for a long time. I just thought I was failing at meditation because I believed these meditation myths:

Meditation is about NOT thinking.

No way! Meditation involves noticing your thoughts, yes–but then you gently bring your attention back to the present. Instead of chasing thoughts and giving our full attention to those stories in your head, you notice them and then gently bring your attention back to the present moment. That small shift is the movement that builds your presence. It’s powerful.

You have to meditate for long chunks of time to see results.

My life is b-u-s-y. Carving out a quiet hour every day to meditate just isn’t going to happen, so I thought I’d be missing out on all the benefits. But this is absolutely not true! In fact, researchers who study mindfulness have said that even a few minutes a day broken up into small chunks can make a lasting difference.

Meditation is the only path to mindfulness.

Listen, meditation is absolutely wonderful and has huge benefits. But the reason meditation works so well is because it helps you become more mindful. Mindfulness is what really helps you increase your awareness and strengthen your inner peace.

So let’s bust those myths right here and now with five ways to be more mindful without meditating.

Notice Your Breath

‍This one is a classic for good reason! It’s simple, quiet, and effective. And best of all, it’s flexible, and you can do it anywhere!

Maybe you want to sit crisscross applesauce, or maybe you want to stand. Maybe you want to close your eyes, or maybe you just want to soften your gaze by lowering your eyes to the ground. Maybe you want to do a breathing exercise (box breathing is a great one!) or maybe you just want to breathe normally.

It’s ALL good!

Just find a position that feels right, put your hand on your belly, right over your belly button, and then start to notice the rise and fall of your breath. If your mind starts to wander, that’s okay! Just bring it back to your breath.

If it’s wandering a lot, that’s okay too! Good on you for noticing that your mind is busy!

Once you notice, try shifting your focus. Instead of just feeling your belly expand and contract, try to find where you notice your breath the most. Is it in your nostrils? Your throat? Your chest? This will give your brain a task while still keeping you in the present.

If you like a little guidance in your exercise, join me over here for a mindful break where I walk you through noticing your breath!

The Fingertip Exercise

‍I learned this one from a coach, Dr. Shirzad Chamine. (He also shares it in his book Positive Intelligence, which should definitely be on your summer reading list!)

It’s so simple! Close your eyes, put two fingers together, and start slowly, gently rubbing them back and forth. And then just notice. Notice the ridges on your fingertips. When your mind starts to wander, don’t stop. Just notice that your brain went somewhere else and then bring it back to those ridges.

You don’t need to block out a big chunk of time to get the benefits—just do it for 10 to 20 seconds! That’s it! Circle back to it in short bursts throughout the day.

This one is especially great if you find you have trouble staying focused on your breath. It engages different senses and gives you a kinesthetic task so you don’t feel quite so antsy about stopping your day and sitting still.

By the way, I walk you through the technique and why it works right here!

Lunch Break Retreat

‍Be honest—how often do you find yourself shoveling down leftovers at your desk during your lunch break?

Listen, we’re all guilty from time to time. But your lunch break isn’t just about nourishing your body—it’s time you should use to nourish your mind as well.

Grab that Tupperware of last night’s chicken enchiladas (hey, leftovers make great lunches—no shame there!), leave your phone at your desk, and find yourself a comfortable, sunny spot to sit. If it’s too hot to hang outside, just find a big window you can sit in front of.

As you eat, just notice how delicious your lunch tastes and smells. Notice how grateful you are for having this food in front of you. Notice how good it feels to fill your belly.

You don’t have to manufacture moments to cultivate mindfulness. Just bringing yourself into the present and noticing the details you could easily overlook is what mindfulness is all about!

Sink into Your Senses

‍This is a great one if you feel like your brain is just too “busy” to slow down and be still.

Find something you can see. Don’t spend too much time thinking about it; the object you pick really isn’t important—just something that immediately catches your eye.

Then start to notice all of the details of that object. What colors do you see? What textures? What shapes? How does the light hit the object?

Once you’ve picked an object, stick with it. Your brain may want to move onto the next thing, or your inner voice may tell you that you picked the wrong thing. Just take a deep breath and put your whole focus on that object.

Pull on every single thread. Maybe even explore your other senses too—how does that object feel? How does it smell?

Your brain will still be busy, but it will be focused on something tangible in the present moment, which helps you cultivate more presence in your thoughts, and it will train your brain to notice what you notice, which helps you practice noticing your thoughts as well!

Joy Boost: Savor Something You Love

When we’re having a hard moment, it can feel like time stretches on infinitely. But when we’re having a moment of pure joy, it can feel like it goes by in a blip.

So notice when something brings you joy, and then wrap your arms around that feeling and hold on to it.

If you’re cozy in bed, be in that moment and grab on to that feeling of peace and comfort. If you’re dancing to your favorite song, soak up that feeling of freedom and lightheartedness. If you’re floating in the pool, drink in that feeling of calm and weightlessness.

Notice what makes you feel good in that moment. Really talk yourself through it.

Maybe cuddling with your dog is your jam. The next time you’re snuggled up on the couch, tell yourself all the things you love about it.

I feel so loved. I feel so secure. I’m so thankful that this silly little guy trusts me to hold him. I love this feeling of closeness. I love his goofy snores. My body feels so warm and relaxed.

What you’re doing is fully embracing and intensifying that moment. You’re pulling yourself into the present and soaking up the sensations and experiences that you might take for granted if you were running through your to-do list in your head instead.

But you’re also giving your brain a boost of feel-good hormones.

When you’re feeling that love for your pupper, your brain is pumping out oxytocin.

When you’re dancing and feeling energized, your brain is releasing endorphins.

When you’re soaking up the sunshine in the pool, your brain is getting a boost of dopamine.

When you feel gratitude for your cozy bed, you get a bump of serotonin.

So there you have it, friend!

Meditation is undeniably amazing, but it's just one tool in your mindfulness toolbox. Our beautiful brains are all unique, and the journey to mindfulness is personal and diverse. The key is to find what works for you, embrace different practices, and keep exploring.

Remember, mindfulness isn't a one-size-fits-all journey. It's about finding what resonates with you and helps you cultivate presence in your everyday life. Whether it's noticing your breath, engaging your senses, or relishing moments of joy, there's something for everyone.

By expanding your repertoire of mindfulness practices, you'll discover new ways to bring balance, peace, and a healthy dose of calm into your day-to-day existence. So go ahead, take a leap of curiosity, and try one of these practices on for size. You never know, it might just be the missing piece you've been searching for.

I hope this helps you dive in and embrace the power of mindfulness in your own unique way. Your journey awaits—uncover the magic and reap the rewards of a more present, peaceful, and fulfilling life.



 

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If you still love a good read, welcome to my blog. My hope is that every article will give you at least one tid-bit to help you shape your life in the most beautiful way possible. 😊 WELCOME!

Hi, I'm Karen! 

Hi, I'm Karen.

I've made it my life's work to teach as many people as possible about synergistic trifecta of human potential and transformation: mindfulness, positive psychology, and neuroplasticity.

 

This fusion creates a holistic approach to personal growth, well-being, and resilience, empowering you to thrive, navigate life's complexities with grace, and tap into your fullest potential.


​​I've worked with companies such as Nissan, Golf Channel, Google, Universal Orlando Parks & Resorts, LG and many more. 

Whether I'm teaching from stage, in a conference room, or via Zoom, my #1 mission is to help as many people as possible tap into the power of their mindset and start living more fully. Because when you become better, you make the people around you better, and that's how you make the world a little better, too. 🌱 #BetterTogether

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