In his book, Urban Mindfulness: Cultivating Peace, Presence and Purpose in The Middle of It All, Jonathan Kaplan, Ph.D. writes about applying mindfulness to your daily life experiences. His book is divided into sections about where you might practice mindfulness, such as “At Home,” “At Play,” and “At Work.”

Emotionally sensitive people often find noise, crowds, strangers, lack of space or privacy, and clutter dysregulating. Yet all these experiences are often part of life, particularly  in an urban area. Turning to mindfulness may not seem natural as a way to cope in these situations. Kaplan’s book offers ways to apply mindfulness to everyday life.

Mindfulness At Home

One example of using mindfulness in a home situation is being mindful of your response when  your neighbor’s music is blaring so loudly you can’t think. You are  likely to blame your neighbor for the disturbance in your day or evening. You may assume that your neighbor knows that the noise is excessive and annoying to you. Most of the time the truth is your neighbor is focused on what is happening in his own home and not thinking about the effect on you. Perhaps the noise is because the neighbor is hard of hearing or because he is testing a new stereo system. Handling this situation in a mindful way would mean being aware of your reactions, possible explanations, and discussing the situation with your neighbor in a cooperative way, with awareness of the community you want to create.

Mindfulness At Play

For mindfulness play, one suggestion is to go to a museum. Apparently most who visit a museum spend less than 20 minutes in special exhibitions and many spend most of their time taking photographs. Consider observing the exhibits mindfully. Consider what you feel as you walk through the rooms. What do you see? If you change your position, what happens to your perspective?

Mindfulness At Work

For mindfulness at work, Kaplan suggests you be aware of when you start thinking about work and when you stop thinking work. Learning to let go of work when you are not at work is a mindfulness activity that can increase your energy and your availability to be with friends and family members. Repeatedly redirecting your mind away from work when you are not at work can help.

Kaplan also suggests being aware of your breath whenever you are in an elevator, climbing stairs or on an escalator. When you leave one place, imagine leaving all the stress of that situation behind. Us the up and down experiences to transition to another place. You may also be aware of how you greet people when you enter a new location. Are your first words about work that needs to be done? Consider focusing on the person for a few moments before moving on to tasks.

Whether or not you appreciate Kaplan’s suggestions, practicing mindfulness in your daily life is one of the most effective ways to lower your stress, regulate your emotions, and live with awareness.

Sometimes people only think of mindfulness as meditation. Meditation is helpful and mindfulness is also a way of experiencing your life. For example, one of the ways to be more mindful is to be present with the people around you rather than checking email or doing activities on your phone.

What ways do you have of using mindfulness to increase the quality of your daily life?


Photo credit:  ccPhilipp Lücke via Compfight