Mindfulness, the buzziest wellness term from the past few years, is all about being present. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., a molecular biologist and meditation teacher, explains that it’s an “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, nonjudgmentally.” And we know it’s damn good for us. Developed more than 2,000 years ago by Buddhists, we’ve learned it can lead to reduced stress, improved sleep, heightened focus and increased creativity. But…how do we practice it when we don’t have any extra time in our day? The answer? “Sip and stares.”
What are “sip and stares”? It’s simple: You just zone out by staring into middle distance (about 10 to 25 feet away from you) while having your morning coffee, afternoon cup of tea or whatever tiny moment you savor in a busy day. Whether it’s for 30 seconds or three minutes, this is a time to peel your eyes from all screens, zone people out and just…be. It’s kinda like a vitamin B12 shot for your consciousness.
Where does this practice come from? We first heard the term from our favorite astrologist, Jaime Wright (if you aren’t reading her horoscopes, do so right this second). She told us that she heard it from her favorite wellness podcaster, Claire Gallagher, aka The Body Astrologer. Gallagher is a medical astrologer, meaning she thinks about how the stars affect different parts of our body. So it’s no surprise she suggests some mind-body attention right smack in the middle of the day.
Are there actual health benefits to “sip and stares”? Yes! People who stare at computers all day are more subject to computer vision syndrome—a grab bag of problems that includes dry eyes, blurred and double vision, headaches, etc. To prevent this, the American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, shift your eyes from your laptop to look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Sounds familiar, right? With sip and stares, though, you’re dropping everything else, too, so you can add a layer of mindfulness, which comes with its own laundry list of health benefits.