Become an idea machine
James Altucher starts each day by writing down 10 ideas. They might be ideas for a business, how to live his life better, how to improve something, or anything else, really. The subject isn't as important as the process of coming up with the ideas. The point isn't even to come up with good ideas. In fact, he admits that most of them will be bad. But the practice has turned him into an idea machine.
It has trained his mind to focus on a problem and not just to come up with a solution, but many solutions.
This is an exercise in mindfulness because it requires complete attention to the task at hand and it cultivates your ability to see possibilities rather than getting caught up in fears and doubt.
James has written a comprehensive article on becoming an idea machine and his wife has written an entire book on the subject!
Cleanse your calendar
Most of us follow the same routines week after week. Our calendars fill up with obligations because we feel like we have to do them or they're what we've always done.
We feel constantly busy but we're not necessarily getting where we want to go. We're always complaining that there's no time for the things that we really want to do.
That's why getting very intentional with how you spend your time is so powerful. Are you aware of how much time you spend scrolling through Facebook or watching TV? How would it feel to say "no" when you don't really want to go out or to let go of commitments that are filling you with dread?
I love Alexandra's posts on "cleansing your calendar" so much. She walks you through the process of getting rid of the to-do's you're resenting and actually letting them go. We might think that being busy means we're important or fulfilled, but often it's a form of procrastination. When we take a hard look at our calendars, we can begin to mindfully build our days to create the lives we truly desire.
Use a cash budget
Am I ever going to stop harping on about this? Maybe. But only if I find a better way to manage my finances mindfully while still having lots of fun.
It's easier to be mindful of our finances when we're actually seeing the money in our wallet depreciate.
Another way to become more mindful of your spending is to track it with an app like Mint or YNAB or Wally. We all know that a daily latte or drinks every weekend really add up, but until you account for every dollar and look at the results at the end of the month, it's hard to realize how much it adds up.
Related: I wrote a full guide to using a cash budget, which will you walk through the process as well as the benefits.
Have you ever listened to a speaker and noticed that they have a vocal tick that comes out again and again? They might end every sentence as if it's a question, add a nervous giggle in every so often, or say "um" way too much.
We all have these little ticks but we aren't usually aware of them unless we listen back to ourselves on an audio recording or if someone points them out. In fact, we speak mindlessly most of the time. There are lots of ways that our speech can do us a disservice. If we raise our voice at the end of every sentence, we don't sound like we're confident in what we're saying. Many women speak in a higher voice than is natural for them and leads to people taking us less seriously.
What if instead we mindfully chose words and even a tone of voice that seduced our listener so that they hung on our every word?
Of course seduction isn't just a sexual thing. It's a way of being that expresses who you are through every word, every action, every look.
Kitty Cavalier is the queen of seduction and she has written an excellent article on speaking seductively - and I bet it doesn't involve what you think!
And when we bring this mindful intention to what we're saying, we're more likely to express ourselves clearly, ask for what we want, and stand up for ourselves!
Shake it off!
Shaking is part of every Qoya class and that's where I was first introduced to it. But it's actually an ancient practice that is used by yogis as well as in shamanic healing rituals and even by wild animals in nature. It's one of the most simple practices but it allows us to release fear and reset our body.
Qoya founder, Rochelle Schiek suggests you try this as an experiment: "Shake your right hand only as much as you can for about 30 seconds. Shake rigorously. Shake intensely. Shake like you mean it. Keep shaking...a little bit more. Shake 10 more seconds, with more enthusiasm at the end and then stop and gently cup both hands in front of you, as if you were holding a globe, and feel the difference between your right and left hand. Feel how one hand is stronger and at the same time lighter. Notice how you feel increased energy, vitality, and mental clarity after shaking your right hand for 30 seconds."
To give shaking a full go, put on an upbeat song and start by shaking your hands vigorously for 10-30 seconds. Shake one foot and then the other. Lie on your back and shake your legs in the air. Stand up and shakeyour hips. Shake your shoulders. Shake everything at once! While your shaking you can picture any fears or anxieties or frustrations being flung from your body and going back into the earth.
Whenever I do this I end up feeling calmer and more energized at the same time.
Rochelle has a video that will show you this practice in action.
Connect to your intuition
I think we all want to live more authentically and be true to ourselves, but how can we foster that kind of connection? How do we discern our intuitive voice from our fears and all of the other yammering going on inside our heads?
We all have an inner knowing that's connected to our deepest desires and our best self, but it can be difficult to hear it among the noise. And even harder to trust it when almost everything it tell us to do is fucking scary.
Jess Lively has a fantastic exercise you can use when you're facing a life choice and want to connect to your intuition to figure it out.
She suggests literally writing out a conversation between your ego and your intuition. Write the question from your ego and then intuitively free write a response. I know this might sound a little crazy but it's surprising how quickly this inner knowing can spring forward when we let it. You can get a full explanation of the exercise and a real-life example on her website.
Feel your feelings
For the most part, we live in a society that encourages us to put our uncomfortable feelings in a box, slap on a smile, and forget about them. But that just leads to tensions brewing beneath the surface, waiting to erupt. And we grow more and more out of touch with who we are, what we want, and the direction our lives are taking.
Louise Androlia's "feel your feelings" mantra is so powerful.
She encourages us to really tune in to how we're feeling and declare it to ourselves: "I'm feeling __________." Feel the feeling in your body and breathe into that space. Tell yourself: "I'm feeling ____________ and that's okay."
I love this practice. It brings more awareness to our lives and I've found that it allows me to sit with a feeling without getting drawn into a panic about it. It gives me permission to allow whatever I'm feeling - no matter how shit it is - to flow through me rather than resisting it. Because what we resist persists, but when we go with the flow, the feeling can run its natural course.
Plus, when we're in touch with our emotions, we can begin to use them as a compass for what's working in our lives and what could use some retuning.
Take a look at the stories you're telling yourself
We all have those stories we tell ourselves. Some of mine are: I'm not an athlete - in fact, exercise just isn't my jam; my ex-business partner totally screwed me over, and I've always been afraid of heights.
But are those stories really true? Do they have to be? Is telling myself them contributing to me being my best self? Do they empower or disempower me?
Usually we allow our thoughts to mindlessly swirl around our heads. If we've been telling ourselves these stories for long enough we just accept them as gospel, without ever questioning them.
Sarah says it's time to cut that shit out. Instead, ask yourself: "What would happen if you reframed that experience? What would happen if you tried to view your struggles through a lens of empathy and growth?"
Pausing to examine our stories allows us to view them as just that: stories. And we're the ones with the power to rewrite them and create new endings as we please.
Use your breath to fuel your workouts
We can use our breath to fuel every area of our life. We can use it to call in stillness or to push us further. We can breathe out our anxieties and negativity and breathe in whatever it is we need in the moment.
This article walks you through using yogic breathing to bring mindfulness and a sense of strength to your workouts. It's a simple technique that brings additional benefits to getting fit as you use that time to create peace of mind and personal growth. Pretty cool, right?
Ultimately, mindfulness is about settling into the present moment. Embracing it even. We let go of our stranglehold on the past and stop obsessing over the future. The present moment is all we really have.
These are practical ways to begin incorporating mindfulness into your life. Pick one and rock it out!
If it turns out that one doesn't groove with you, try something else. Notice that there are opportunities to be mindful in every moment. The more you practice, the more you'll train your mind and the easier it will become to stay in the present moment. That's where the magic is!
So to make sure you have a plethora of ways to start living more mindfully, I've created a bonus list of 30 more ideas and they've all been tried and tested by yours truly.
READY TO ZEN THE SHIT OUT OF YOUR LIFE?
Click below to download my list of 30 tried & tested ways to live more mindfully (WITHOUT meditating).