#1 Create A Morning Ritual

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Mornings can have the power to set the tone for the rest of your day.

  1. When you first wake up, before looking at your phone or getting caught up by any other distractions, take a moment of quiet reflection for yourself.
  2. Your morning ritual could be as simple as sitting up in your bed, eyes closed, and spending a moment or two focused on your breathing. While breathing, you can practice a simple moment of gratitude and think of something you are grateful for or set an intention (aim or focus) for your day.
  3. As you develop this morning ritual, you can deepen your practice by sitting for longer periods and allowing more silence before you begin your day. You can think of this practice as a way to set yourself up for success for the day by regulating your nervous system (your body’s functioning) in preparation for the day ahead.

#2 Mindful Breathing

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Remember You Are Always Breathing!

One of the easiest and most direct ways to bring your attention to the present moment is by bringing your attention to your breath. Your breath is always happening in the present moment whether you are thinking about it or not, and by bringing your attention to it, you are directly connecting yourself to the present moment as it is unfolding.

    • You can try this right now. As you take a few breaths, notice how you are breathing, if it is shallow or deep, and where in your body you feel it, whether it be in your chest, belly, or nose.
    • For a quick practice: Take three deep belly breaths in and out through your nose, focusing your attention on your inhale and exhale, noting where you feel the breath in your body. Repeat this three times and practice it as often as you need throughout the day. This practice can be especially useful in stressful circumstances.

#3 Mindful Listening

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Practice Mindful/Active Listening

Many times, when someone is speaking to us, we are often caught up in our own mind thinking of what we are going to say next, without giving their words our full attention and consideration. Mindful listening is a way of listening without judgment, criticism, or interruption. Do this while at the same time as being aware of internal thoughts and reactions you may be experiencing that are actually getting in the way of people communicating with you effectively.

Next time you are in a conversation, try actively listening to the other person with your full attention and see what you notice. Is the conversation more enjoyable? Easier? Or something else? This type of mindful listening can lead to developing deeper and more authentic connections with others.

 

#4 Check in with Your Body

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Tune into your Body

One of the most amazing aspects of your body is that it functions without you having to do anything — your heart beats, your lungs breathe, and your stomach processes and digests your food without you having to tell them to. Yet, your body also constantly sends you messages and feedback through different sensations that you might not always notice. It is an important tool for your health to make some time each day to tune into your body’s sensations and notice if you think it is trying to communicate something to you. Take a moment each day and check in with your body. What do you notice? Are there any pains or aches? Do you feel a sense of heaviness or lightness? Do you feel tight anywhere? By bringing your attention to your body, you are able to bring your attention to the present and also connect to the feedback and information your body is sending you so you can learn from your body.

The Practice

Set an alarm on your phone or watch for a specific time each day to check in with your body and do this practice. Take a deep breath and become fully aware of everything you feel through your senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, smell), including sensations in your body, the air on your skin, temperature of the room, sounds around you, etc. Notice, allow, and breathe through any discomfort that might come up from thoughts, feelings, or sensations you have.

Tips for strong emotions or sensations: When you do this practice, it is normal for strong emotions or physical sensations to be there. If the emotions or sensations feel overwhelming, just stop the practice and give yourself some kudos for trying it out! Many people have noticed that the more they practice, the more they are able to handle big emotions or sensations in their bodies.

If the emotions or sensations are not too overwhelming and you want to keep practicing, try this:

  • As you check in with your body and emotions, see if you can “feel” where the emotions live in your body. You might find that feelings of worry or anxiety cause discomfort in your chest and so on. Once you identify where that emotion lives in your body, you can bring your attention to it, and see if you can relax your body in that area. This can help release and soften the emotion or sensation you are feeling and maybe even its impact on you.

#5 Find Things to be Grateful For

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Adopting an “attitude of gratitude” is a little practice that can have a big impact on your life! People who regularly practice gratitude make time in their day to notice and reflect on the people, places, and things they are thankful for. In doing so, studies suggest they experience more positive emotions, sleep better, have more compassion and kindness towards others, feel more alive, and even have stronger immune systems. This practice allows you to really savor and appreciate the goodness in your life.

    • It is best done daily for 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes before going to bed by reflecting in your favorite journal and writing down 3 things you are grateful for.
    • You can start by noting simple things that make your life better each day, for example, a friend or family member who helps you, a place like your home or school, or things like your favorite blanket, sweater, or pet.
    • This practice is also useful for moments when your life feels stormy or out of control, too. It is a powerful way to uplift your mind by focusing your attention in the present moment to what is positive in your life.
    • It is a way to gently bring the positive things to the forefront of your mind so that you are able to more easily come back into the present moment, rather than worrying about the future or thinking about difficulties in the past.

By focusing on the positive we become more available to create a more positive future and attract more of the things we do want in our life. Just remember, where your focus goes, energy flows!

#6 Mindful Movement / Walking

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

There are so many times throughout the day where the mind is distracted or on autopilot and you might wonder how you got from point A to point B without having to put much thought into it. By bringing mindful attention to your walking or movement, you can break free from this cycle, clearing your mind of any clutter, and restoring your sense of focus and attention to what is directly in front of you. The goal is simple and fun. Become consciously aware while moving.

As you walk or move, pay attention to the sensations of the body, and play with your movement. Imagine you are an alien who just landed on Earth and had to learn how to walk on our planet. How do your feet feel when they each hit the ground? How do the other muscles of your body feel as you balance? Notice if and how your arms swing as you walk. Is it easier or more difficult to move if you slow down? As you become aware of your body and surroundings, see if you can open up your senses with a sense of curiosity and joy to experience the sights, sounds, and smells that surround you.

#7 Tap into Your Flow State

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

It’s more likely than not that you have experienced a flow state at some point in your life. It is a state of mind and body where you are completely absorbed and intensely focused on your task at hand, unaffected by any distractions. In this state, time will feel like it has slowed down, your senses will be heightened, and your actions and awareness are in sync to respond with effortless momentum.

    • Tapping into a flow state is possible for everyone and can be achieved in a physical activity, creative pursuit, or even more mundane everyday tasks. Many people know this state as being “in the zone,” and it is an incredibly powerful state to be able to tap into.
    • Tapping into a flow state becomes easier the more you practice mindfulness meditation, because you are actively training your attention, focus, and concentration.
    • A flow state is essentially meditation in motion and is most easily accessible by doing something you love.
    • To create flow remember: you must be engaging in something you like or with an attitude of joy, the activity cannot be too easy or difficult, your mindset must be focused on the journey not the destination, process, or the end result.

#8 Observe Your Surroundings with Mindful Seeing

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Mindful seeing is the practice of taking in your surroundings by observing and noticing the finer details of life all around you in the present moment, without needing to label or judge them in any way. This is best practiced outdoors where you can experience the natural world around you.

You might notice:
    • The clouds moving across the sky,
    • People or animals walking by,
    • The wind against your face,
    • Leaves falling from the trees, or
    • The beautiful flowers.

There are so many ways to practice mindful seeing. Look for the small details, the things you find beautiful, and the quiet things in life and the world around you. When you take in these details, notice how they make you feel inside. Another level of mindfulness, unlocked. This practice reveals the beauty and gift that can be found in the present moment — all around you, all the time. Practicing this way, through how you observe the world, shows you the choice you always have over where and how your attention is directed. This choice of where you place your attention is always yours.

 

#9 Try Mindful Eating

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

A really great and enjoyable way to bring your attention to the present moment is when you eat. Sometimes we aren’t paying attention to the food we eat because we’re distracted and busy doing other things at the same time — homework, talking or texting with friends, watching videos or TV, etc. This can often lead to mindless eating where you may eat way more than you meant to or so fast that you didn’t realize you were already full. When you take time to eat mindfully, you can bring yourself into the experience, truly appreciate your food, and engage all five of your senses.

    • Start with a small portion, look at your food, noticing the colors, aromas, and textures. Think about where your food came from, and all of the people, plants, and animals that helped make this food for you. Take a moment to practice gratitude in your mind and heart, saying “thank you” for all the work that it took to bring you this food.
    • Use your nose to smell the aromas your food has to offer.
    • As you chew slowly and thoroughly, feel the textures in your mouth, like soft, hard, chewy, warm, or cold.
    • Listen to the sounds the foods make as you chew the food and focus on the diverse flavors you taste.

The more you practice mindful eating, the more enjoyment and nourishment you will experience when eating.

#10 Find A Buddy!

Developing a mindfulness practice doesn’t always have to be something you do alone. Lots of times mindfulness is practiced in a community or group setting. Community support is key to developing and maintaining a practice. If you tend to be more social, or like the accountability, connection, and support that community or group members bring to the experience, find a buddy or group to practice with! There are some awesome apps and organizations that offer teen-centered mindfulness classes, retreats, and practices on their website and in-person.

Check them out here: