HEALTHY LIVING
06/18/2014 08:31 am ET Updated Jun 18, 2014

6 Mindfulness Habits You're Already Practicing (But May Not Know It)

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"I just can't do it."

The excuses for not engaging in mindfulness are endless -- you either don't know how or worse, you don't have time. You may think that being mindful on a daily basis is something that's more of a pipe dream than a reality, but don't count yourself out so quickly. Mindfulness is simply about being fully present in the moment, whether it's through meditating or just in conversation. The truth is, some of your everyday habits are mindful at their core -- you just didn't know it. Below are six mindfulness habits you're probably practicing already.

Paying attention when your child is telling you about her day.
parent child talking
When your little one excitedly scurries into the car and tells you about what games she played on the playground -- and you actively respond -- you're practicing mindfulness. As HuffPost blogger Jan Cloninger wrote in a post on mindful parenting, your awareness (or lack thereof) can have a significant effect on your children. "People often say they have trouble focusing their minds. It's difficult to be in the moment -- especially when we're parenting and the demands of life also need our attention," she wrote. "If, as adults, we are having a difficult time managing the distractions that interfere with our ability to focus, it's not surprising that our children are struggling, too."

Next time your son or daughter animatedly tells you a story, be grateful for the mindfulness you're already practicing. It makes for amazing memories later on.

Soaking up the sunset on your walk home.
sunset walking street
It's hard not to stare at the sky as the sun casts its final golden glow for the day -- and when you stop to appreciate its final moments, you're actively engaging in a mindful activity. As mindfulness researcher Jon Kabat-Zinn once said, "Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally." And nothing fits that bill better than taking in the beauty of a sunset.

Savoring every bite of that cake.
eating cake
There's nothing quite like the sweet taste of your favorite dessert -- and if you're slowly enjoying every last morsel of a rare treat, you're mastering the art of mindful eating. And that's not the only benefit of practicing the habit: Being present with your meals and eating slower has been linked to significant weight loss.

Throwing yourself into your weekly softball game.
softball
It's no secret that many of the world's best athletes are using mindfulness to help their performance -- and it's paying off. In fact, according to sports psychology coach JoAnn Dahlkoetter, the actual art of playing the game is mindful in itself. "If you can think about just what's happening at that moment -- I like to give my athletes a little mantra, saying, 'Just this play, just this kick, just this pass,' -- just keeping your mind on what you need to do that moment, that's a really good way to practice that mindfulness in the game itself," she said in a recent HuffPost Live segment.

Cooking dinner (for yourself or for others).
chopping food
As the meditation experts at Headspace point out, cooking is meditation in action. When you're making a meal, you have the opportunity to be present and aware (because no one actually wants to be distracted while using a sharp knife!). If you're focused on the task (and the boiling water) in front of you, you're already more mindful than you think.

Enjoying a nice, long shower at the end of the day.
shower equipment
Chances are you're grateful for the few moments you get to relax under that steaming water, as you wash away the stress of the day. Those little periods of bliss have mindfulness written all over them -- and it's in a task you're already doing on a daily basis. A warm shower is the perfect place for a little awareness (plus once you're done enjoying the moment, it's also a place where you can do your best thinking).

This GPS Guide is part of a series of posts designed to bring you back to balance when you're feeling off course.

GPS Guides are our way of showing you what has relieved others' stress in the hopes that you will be able to identify solutions that work for you. We all have de-stressing "secret weapons" that we pull out in times of tension or anxiety, whether they be photos that relax us or make us smile, songs that bring us back to our heart, quotes or poems that create a feeling of harmony or meditative exercises that help us find a sense of silence and calm. We encourage you to visit our other GPS Guides here, and share with us your own personal tips for finding peace, balance and tranquility.

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