10 Ways to Practice Mindfulness Without an App

Blog Post by Elisa Pak, LMFT of EPC

10 Ways to Practice Mindfulness Without an App

In our hectic lives where our phones are constantly glued to our hands, it seems to make perfect sense to turn to an app for our meditation and mindfulness time.  And there are a bunch of great ones out there that help a lot of us get our daily doses of mindfulness, from Calm, Headspace, and Insight Timer. However, there are also a lot of us that find it difficult to carve out some time for daily mindfulness in our on-the-go lives.  And some of us that find it near impossible to sit and close our eyes to meditate for any amount of time during the day. Often times, we’re simply not in a position to turn on an app and close our eyes.  Maybe we’re driving, maybe we’re walking, or maybe we don’t want to look like we’re snoozing at our desk. 


However, being mindful is one of the best ways to take a mental break from our hectic day. How often do we get a pop-up notification from our apps telling us that just a few minutes in mindfulness would bring calm and expansion in our day, only to simply ignore them?  For that reason, it’s just as important to be able to practice mindfulness without having to turn to an app or having to find a good block of time to close our eyes and breathe. Here are 10 simple ways to practice mindfulness without using an app.

  1. Take a conscious breath in and a conscious breath out, eyes open or not.  Anytime we notice our breath as it flows into and out of our bodies, we are being mindful and present.  Paying attention to the breath is us being connected to our source of life. Mindfulness involves observing without judgment, noticing our breath, body, thoughts, or our surroundings in a nonjudgmental way.  Pay attention to your inhale and exhale and feel your belly or chest expand with the inhale and contract with the exhale. Tip: belly breathing is linked to deep relaxation.

  2. Do a quick body scan - Check in with your body, starting from the crown of your head and scanning downwards.  Notice any tightness and relax and soften your muscles as your travel down. Pair this with attention to the breath, softening your muscles with each exhale.

  3. Express gratitude for the moment.  Mindfulness is a state of awareness and expressing gratitude for the moment is a great way to get mindful and present.

  4. Use essential oils. Add a few drops of essential oil to a diffuser and enjoy the scent and essential oil benefits with each inhale.

  5. Engage your 5 senses.  Involving any of our five senses of sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch, helps bring us into the present moment.  Observe what’s going on around you, engaging as many of your senses as possible.  

  6. Practice mindful eating.  Mindful eating involves engaging all five senses and is a great practice for incorporating more mindfulness into your day.  As you eat your meal or snack, notice the colors and shapes of your meal. Listen for any sounds. Inhale its scent and taste your food.  Feel the different textures and temperature of your food. Express gratitude for the meal that is nourishing your body.

  7. Check in with your heart and how you are feeling.  Take a nice deep breath into your heart and acknowledge how you presently feel.  You can put your hand over your heart as you give yourself space to drop down into your heart and breathe.  

  8. Have go-to meditations that you can do without using an app.   These can include simply counting your breaths starting with one after each exhale until you reach 10 and starting over again; observing your thoughts without judgment and letting them go as your return to the breath; a loving-kindness meditation, where you repeat the following mantras:  “May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I be safe from harm. May I be at ease.” Switch from saying “I” to “you” as you think of someone you want to send loving kindness to. Finally you can end with switching from “you” to “we all.”

  9. Do your daily activities mindfully.  These can include anything from mindfully washing your hands or doing the dishes.  You might be surprised at how different these daily mundane activities may feel when you do them mindfully.

  10. Go on a mindful walk.   Take a time-out for yourself as you mindfully take a little walk and enjoy a break from the mental wear and tear of your thoughts.  Just breathe, observe your surroundings and thoughts without judgment, and engage your senses as you revel in the present moment.  

Adriane Kruer