The power of pausing: Embracing micro-mindfulnessMar 30, 2023 — Dipanjan Bosu
Picture this, you are sitting at your desk, staring at your PC, trying to concentrate on the task at hand. But your mind keeps wandering off to the movie you saw that weekend, or that argument you had with your partner last night. Or maybe you're just feeling overwhelmed by your massive workload.
Sound familiar? We've all been there. And in these moments, it's easy to feel like we're losing control of our minds. But what if there was a simple technique you can use to regain that control? A technique that takes just a few seconds, can be done on the go anywhere and anytime, and doesn't require any special equipment or training?
What is micro-mindfulness, you ask? Well, it's exactly what it sounds like: mindfulness in small, bite-sized sessions. Instead of dedicating a whole hour to meditation or yoga, which often people think of when told about mindfulness, micro-mindfulness encourages you to practice mindfulness in short sessions throughout your day. It's a way of bringing your attention back to the present moment, and reining in your wandering thoughts, even when you're busy or stressed.
I first discovered the power of micro-mindfulness a few years ago, during a particularly stressful time in my life. I was working part time, I was in the first year of college far away from home, and trying to maintain a social life all at the same time. Needless to say, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed.
But then I stumbled upon a blogpost about micro-mindfulness, and decided to give it a try. I started incorporating short mindfulness exercises whenever I had a spare minute or two. For example, I would take a deep breath and focus on the sensation of the air filling my lungs, or I would close my eyes and tune in to the sounds around me.
At first, it felt a bit silly. How much of a difference could a few seconds of mindfulness really make? But I quickly noticed a change in my mood and productivity. I felt calmer and more centered, even in the midst of an eventful day. I noticed significant improvement in my focus and productivity––and I had far fewer random thoughts.
Since then, micro-mindfulness has become a regular part of my life, so to say, and I have to mention Medito here as well. I heavily use the session "Endless presence" by Chris Collins during my micro-mindfulness sessions everyday. I do it when I'm waiting at the metro station, or when I'm walking from one class to the next. And while it might seem like a small thing, it's had a big impact on my mental health and overall wellbeing.
Types of micro-mindfulness practices
Now that we have an understanding of what micro-mindfulness actually is, here are some popular types of micro-mindfulness practice:
- One-minute breathing: Take a deep breath and count to four while inhaling. Hold your breath for four seconds and then exhale for another four seconds. Repeat for one minute.
- Five-senses check-in: Pause and take a moment to notice five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
- Mindful eating: Take a small piece of food, like a raisin or a piece of chocolate, and observe its texture, smell, and color before eating it. Take your time to savor the taste and texture.
- Gratitude journaling: Write down three things you are grateful for each day, no matter how big or small.
- Body scan: Close your eyes and slowly focus on each part of your body, from your toes to your head, and notice any sensations, tension, or feelings of relaxation.
- Mindful walking: Take a few minutes to walk slowly and mindfully, paying attention to each step and the feeling of the ground beneath your feet.
- Mindful listening: Practice active listening by focusing on the person speaking and really hearing what they are saying without judgment or distractions.
- Digital detox: Take a break from your phone, computer, or other electronic devices for a certain period of time each day; and engage in an offline activity like reading, walking, or spending time with loved ones.
Remember, these are just a few examples of micro-mindfulness techniques, and there are many more out there waiting for you to explore.
Now that we've explored some fun and interactive micro mindfulness techniques, let's talk about the importance of consistency in practicing them. Just like any healthy habit, consistency is key to reaping the benefits of micro mindfulness. It's like growing a plant, you won't notice significant growth on the very first day you water it, nor would you expect it to bear fruits if you don't water it everyday. The key is to water (micro-mindfulness) consistently in order to have fruits (mental peace).
Benefits of micro-mindfulness
The benefits of micro-mindfulness for only a few minutes on a daily basis have extensive positive long-term benefits for the mind as well as the body. So, here are some of them :
- Reduces stress: According to a study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, taking brief breaks throughout the workday to practice mindfulness can reduce feelings of stress and improve overall well-being. Think of it like a mental stretch break!
- Increases focus and productivity: Practicing micro-mindfulness can increase focus and productivity by helping to reduce distractions and improve attention. It's like giving your brain a small gym session.
- Improves mood: Practicing micro-mindfulness for just a few minutes a day can improve mood and increase feelings of positivity. It's like a mini happiness boost.
- Enhances self-awareness: micro-mindfulness can help us become more aware of our thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, which can lead to increased self-awareness and self-reflection.
So, now that we have an understanding of micro-mindfulness and its benefits, here are a few tips on how you can integrate it into your daily routine:
- Take baby steps:
Don't try to add an hour of mindfulness into your day right off the bat. Remember, the goal is to make mindfulness a regular part of your routine, not to overwhelm yourself with a huge time commitment. Being mindful is a continuous process, so take it slow, get comfortable, and then build on it. Have bite-size sessions. You can do it by yourself but I personally find three minutes of daily meditation from Medito very helpful.
- Make it a habit:
Try to incorporate micro-mindfulness into your daily routine, so that it becomes a habit. For example, I take a few deep breaths every time I check my mail. Apart from that, I take a five-minute session with Medito meditation music on my way to college. The more you do it, the easier it will become.
- Get creative:
There are countless ways to practice micro-mindfulness, so don't hold back from trying new methods. You might try focusing on the sensation of your feet on the ground as you walk, or taking a few deep breaths before starting work. Not all the methods will work for you, you may find guided meditation helpful or maybe you find it annoying. The key is to identify and stick with things that work for you.
- Don't beat yourself up:
Remember, mindfulness is a practice not a destination. There will be days when you forget to practice, find it unbearable, or useless. Give yourself a break, the point is to lessen your stress with mindfulness not burden yourself further.
In conclusion, micro-mindfulness is a simple yet effective way to incorporate mindfulness practices into our daily lives. It involves taking small, intentional pauses throughout the day to bring our attention to the present moment, which can help us reduce stress, increase focus, and improve our overall well-being. By making micro-mindfulness a habit, we can cultivate greater awareness and connection with ourselves and the world around us. While it may seem challenging to find time for mindfulness in our busy lives, even just a few minutes of micro-mindfulness can make a significant impact.
So why not give it a try?
Start small, and notice how your mental and emotional state may change with each micro-moment of mindfulness. With regular practice, you may find yourself feeling more centered and grounded, even in the midst of life's many distractions and demands.