3 ways to be mindful without meditating

coffee meditation

Guest article by Kristen Truempy

When people hear mindfulness, they usually think about meditation. But meditation is not the only way to become mindful. Actually, almost anything you enjoy is perfectly suited to improve your mindfulness.

Before we start, let’s look at what we mean by mindfulness: the ability to direct our attention and to experience what is going on in the present moment. Being present in the moment increases the quality of the experience we are having, so it’s not just about future benefits. It’s about letting the present truly touch you.

1. Writing

When I started writing short stories, I suddenly became much more aware of my surroundings. I left the house each day and experienced something new: a glittering piece of plastic or a whiff of earthy river that I had passed by for years and years. My writing friends forced me to take notice and use these details in my stories.

When you write, the character you’re describing does not just drive a car but actually drives a frog-green Mini because it’s an ice-breaker with the ladies. Details matter – without the lost glove on the street or the smeared coffee cup, readers are less willing to enter your fictional dream because it just doesn’t seem real enough. So if you’re interested in writing, that can be a great way to hone your powers of observation and mindful recording of what’s going on. 

2. Photography

Photography deepened my mindfulness by teaching me to pay attention to the quality of light, where it’s coming from, and how lines are everywhere, from actual lines at pedestrian crossings to the ones our eyes perceive when we see a few lampposts in a row.

My point is that the ability to work on our attention can be practiced when we’re doing things we enjoy and are motivated to learn anyway. If you don’t like meditation for some reason, it doesn’t mean that the benefits of mindfulness have to elude you forever. You can enter mindfulness through any activity you enjoy.

3. Sports

Games like soccer are another wonderful way of practicing mindfulness. You pay attention to people’s strengths and weaknesses because you want to beat them. “That guy is a fast runner, but can’t stop a ball well enough to hold on to it.” This very ability to notice small things about our fellow human beings is a great way to train your attention. If you can do it on the soccer field, you can do it in daily life.

Writing, photography, and sports are only three possibilities to train mindfulness without meditation. Can you think of any others?

Why would you care about such things? Because even one tiny moment, devoid of anything loud and exciting, can be filled with so much happiness that you remember it forever. Even years later, you can experience profound peace in recalling the simple act of watching a waiter pick up used coffee cups with a clink or staring at a spider web full of twinkling raindrops illuminated by the sun. Meditation surely helps, but it’s not the only way to mindful living.

Photo by Flickr user { lillith } 

Kristin TruempyKristen Truempy accidentally discovered the strengths approach when she was 11 years old and captain of a girl’s soccer team. She used her skills of keen observation to discover each player’s talent, structured the practices accordingly, and a year later the team won the cup. In 2012, she had to admit to herself that this experience would not suffice to convince companies to pay her to set the strengths of their employees free, so she embarked on the adventure that is obtaining a Master of Science in Applied Positive Psychology (and recently passed). She can be found at http://strengthsphoenix.com/listen.

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