It’s so easy to get stuck in the hustle and bustle of everyday life; commuting to and from work & school, spending time with family & friends, doing extracurriculars & fulfilling your dreams… how can you manage to stay mindful in between?

I have put together a list of 5 things that worked best for me when I was just starting this journey! Of course, everyone is different and I am all about finding what works best for you. So explore, experiment and do not be afraid to fail. There is no right or wrong way to do it… just be aware, be kind and accept each moment for what it is.

1) Wake up every morning & set one positive intention for the day.

I think we can all agree that waking up can be ROUGH. But really, it doesn’t have to be! Planning ahead the night before helps me get my mornings started on the right side of the bed. Try to give yourself enough time to start your day off right… but even when you find yourself in a rush, there is always time for one positive thought! Grab a journal and write it down. Think about it constantly as you go about your day and see how it changes your attitude. As I continued this practice I found myself thinking about it before going to bed and I think it even helped me fall asleep.

2) Notice your breath first.

I like to think of breathing as the essence of our life. It always seems to bring me back to my “home base”. So when you wake up in the morning take 3 deep breaths, ground yourself, and clear your mind.

3) Pick something you see constantly and use it as a reminder to pause & breathe throughout the day.

Just recently I started wearing my Polar A300 watch all day err’ day and it has been really helpful in reminding me not only to get up and walk throughout the day, but it reminds me to meditate as well. I have my Polar set to buzz when I have been sitting for over 2 hours. (This only becomes a problem when I am stuck in class for 3 hours :/) Anyway, when I am at work or home that buzz reminds me to take a moment for myself. I sit back, do a body scan and mindfully realize what I am feeling at that very moment.

4) Reflect & meditate at night.

When I first started meditating I tried to squeeze everything in very early in the morning. I thought if I could wake up, workout, meditate and eat all before 8 am then I was off to a good start… But that just was not realistic! So I started using my bedtime routine as a type of daily reflection. I would shower, brush my teeth and get ready for bed while thinking about my day reflecting on my interactions. Then I would do a long (or short) meditation practice before either reading or going to sleep. This actually ended up relieving stress, even more, because I had more time in the morning and was reflecting on my day, each and every day.

5) Be KIND & gentle towards yourself when you catch your mind wandering or you realize you failed to be mindful.

You are going to fail… I fail every day! But the best part about practicing mindfulness is that even when you recognize that you have failed… you are succeeding! The point is to be compassionate and gentle towards yourself regardless of what you notice. It is simply about noticing.

I used to feel like I was “failing” if I couldn’t sit through a 15-minute meditation. I would start to feel like I was wasting my time and that my time would have been better spent doing something else… But that was not true! Just sitting down to meditate was succeeding. Taking that time for myself meant I was succeeding! Be nice to yourself first. The rest will follow.