What a Daily Dose of Mindful Moments Can Do for You
Braking for mindful moments throughout the day is a way to take mindfulness from an inner practice to an active practice by taking intentional action. The daily challenges of life are endless and stopping to take a mindful moment is a way to meet the shifting challenges a given day brings. A mindful moment practice is pausing regularly throughout the day to take mindful action, either for your own well-being or for that of others.
Without deliberate stress-buffering practices needed in the moment stress strikes, stress can easily accumulate and make your day go dismal in no time. A daily stream of mindful moments can keep you from stressing out and slipping into autopilot. Your mindful moments can be stress-relieving, tension-releasing, relaxing, calming, energizing, self-soothing, or mood- lifting as the moment commands.
Pausing for brief mindful breaks interspersed throughout your day can be a way to cultivate mindfulness as well as reduce stress and negativity, sustain a positive outlook, and nurture self- compassion. Your mindful moments can also foster kind, generous, and thoughtful actions when targeted for the benefit of others. An ideal use of mindful moments is to incorporate them into a routine part of your day, such as the beginning or end of the day, before or after meals, or transitioning from your work life to your home life.
Research shows very brief mindful moment practices can be restorative in many ways, including reducing your stress level, boosting your mood, keeping you more alert and focused, and improving your performance. For example, in Stress Free for Good: 10 Scientifically Proven Life Skills for Health and Happiness, the authors write it takes only 3 to 4 deep breaths, about 10 seconds, to shut down the stress response. And just 2 minutes of exercise that raises your heart rate can change your mood. According to Dr. John Ratey, Harvard medical school professor and author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, anything from jumping jacks to a quick sprint works like an antidepressant to release a surge of dopamine and serotonin.
Mindful Moment Bookmarks
I have compiled the many mindful moment practices offered throughout my book into categories and created 7 “bookmarks” for ready access. You can use them as actual bookmarks to place in whatever current book or magazine you may be reading as a reminder to break for mindful moments. Or you might want to carry them in your purse or post them in a visible place like your refrigerator or bathroom or dresser mirror.
Mindful moments can be taken to reduce stress and negativity, calm down and relax, elicit a positive feeling and boost mood, feel and express gratitude, and be kind to yourself and others. Each of the 7 cards has either 10 or 12 mindful moments for a total of 76 practices in the following categories:
Each of the bookmarks of mindful moments has practices that include the following different ways to integrate mindful moments into your daily life.
Four Ways to Get Your Daily Dose of Mindful Moments
There are at least four ways to start adding mindful moments to your day.
- Take a mindful moment tailored to your fluctuating needs throughout the day – By pausing for mindful moments you can seize the opportunity to “serve the moment” with a mindful practice that is stress-relieving, relaxing, enjoyable, mood-lifting, self-nurturing, grateful, or kind.
- Follow a practice or theme for a day (or designated period) – You may want to follow a theme, or do a practice just for the day that relates to some area you want to pay more attention to or improve. You might select a situation or circumstance and implement a designated practice each time the situation presents itself. Or you may pick a person to be the focus of your mindful moment practice for a day.
- Set a daily intention – Setting a daily intention sparks an awareness you carry with you for the day. It can be a way to prompt you to activate a particular quality such as patience, generosity, or kindness. But you have to do more than set an intention—you need to specify what you are going to do to actualize your intention. When you set an intention for the day, you check in with that intention regularly by pausing for mindful moments.
- Establish daily rituals – A daily ritual is typically done the same time every day and in the same way each time you do it. Your first and last waking moments are ideal times for establishing daily rituals so you begin and end your day intentionally being mindful. You can also incorporate a daily ritual into an already routine part of your day. For example, at your evening meal or transitioning from work.
When you alternate among mindful moments targeted to what you need at the moment, following a designated daily theme, setting intentions, and establishing rituals you can keep your mindfulness practice fresh and novel. Neuroscientists have shown that our brain thrives on novelty. The brain reacts to novelty by releasing the reward chemical dopamine. Novelty is one of the fastest routes to creating new neural connections. Mark Waldman reports in NeuroWisdom: The New Brain Science of Money, Happiness, and Success that anything novel and enjoyable causes dopamine to be released which wakes up the consciousness centers of the brain.
Taking multiple mindful moments throughout the day offers an opportunity for keeping your mindfulness practice new and varied. Novelty and variety not only stimulate your brain’s reward system, they also enhance your brain’s capacity for learning.