Mindfulness is a deeply beneficial practice; the result of working it into day-to-day life has been clinically proven to improve a vast range of clinical disorders — including chronic pain, anxiety, and even depression. It’s a practice that can help you in both the professional and personal realms by improving performance, reducing your level of stress, and enhancing emotional intelligence. At the same time, you’ll end up increasing overall life satisfaction and developing leadership skills.

Below is part one of my two-part series on how to incorporate mindfulness into your day to day life. (You can read part two here.)

  1. Start at a meta level. Begin by focusing on your breath, paying close attention to the way you breathe over the course of a minute. Can you feel your breath in your chest? Is the oxygen hitting the belly? If the answer is no to the last one, give that a try. Breathe deep, bringing that air all the way through your body – past your chest and into your belly. You’ll notice, immediately your mind will become more calm and still. Anytime you feel stressed or overwhelmed, give this a shot. In that stillness, you’ll be able to bring awareness to whatever’s in your present.
  2. Yoga is a fantastic way to get the mental (and physical) exercise you need that can also help to bring your mind to the present. Again, focusing on the breath helps transition you from the chaos of right now into the a moving meditation and… if done properly… it can be an incredibly deeply healing experience.
  3. If you’re doing something or faced with a challenge, focus solely on that one thing. Work hard to keep the mind from wandering and try not to over think the situation or worse “things that haven’t even happened yet.” If you need to, go into that meta level practice: Tracking your breath.
  4. Massages are another way to regain that therapeutic clarity. Every now and again, treat yourself. When you’re in a state of deep relaxation, your breathing becomes deeper and that’ll bring you to a homeostasis state. That helps with being even more aware and present in the moment.
  5. Focus on controlling your thoughts. (It’s not as hard as it seems.) Focus on the state of your mental traffic: Are you thoughts of a generally comparative, negative, or judgmental nature? If so, you need to realize that (1) this isn’t productive and (2) will only cause premature wrinkles and frown-lines. (It’s true!) As humans, we have control over the way we choose to respond to things; bearing in mind that thoughts lead to action and actions lead to habitual behavior… you might want to consider making them positive.