Mindfulness. Mindfulness has been making quite a stir recently. You may have heard this buzzword but found yourself wondering “what does it actually mean”. Well, fear not. I am here to try to answer your questions and give you a brief overview of mindfulness.
Let’s start with a simple definition. At its core, mindfulness is exactly what it sounds like: having your mind FULL of the thing you are currently doing in the present moment, and only that thing. It is the practice of being fully present in the moment without judgement or criticism. Here is a brief video to give you some more background on mindfulness:
Mindfulness helps us put some space between ourselves and our reactions, changing some of the responses we have learned that are no longer working for us anymore. Here’s how to tune into mindfulness throughout the day:
- Set aside some time. You don’t need a meditation cushion or bench, or any sort of special equipment to access your mindfulness skills—but you do need to set aside some time and space.
- Observe the present moment as it is. The aim of mindfulness is not quieting the mind, or attempting to achieve a state of eternal calm. The goal is simple: we’re aiming to pay attention to the present moment, without judgement. Easier said than done, we know.
- Let your judgments roll by.When we notice judgements arise during our practice, we can make a mental note of them, and let them pass.
- Return to observing the present moment as it is. Our minds often get carried away in thought. That’s why mindfulness is the practice of returning, again and again, to the present moment.
- Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself for whatever thoughts crop up, just practice recognizing when your mind has wandered off, and gently bring it back.
That’s the practice. It’s often been said that it’s very simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. The work is to just keep doing it. Results will build over time.
(Adapted from www.mindful.org)
As mentioned in the above video, meditation can be an important part of a mindfulness practice. You may be wondering how to start meditating. For those of you who learn best by watching, here is a video of a 5-minute guided meditation for beginners.
For those who would like to read through a mindfulness practice, the following is a good place to start. This meditation focuses on the breath, not because there is anything special about it, but because the physical sensation of breathing is always there and you can use it as an anchor to the present moment. Throughout the practice you may find yourself caught up in thoughts, emotions, sounds—wherever your mind goes, simply come back again to the next breath. Even if you only come back once, that’s okay.
- Sit comfortably – find a spot that gives you a stable, solid, comfortable seat.
- Notice what your legs are doing.If on a cushion, cross your legs comfortably in front of you. If on a chair, rest the bottoms of your feet on the floor.
- Straighten your upper body—but don’t stiffen. Your spine has natural curvature. Let it be there.
- Notice what your arms are doing. Situate your upper arms parallel to your upper body. Rest the palms of your hands on your legs wherever it feels most natural.
- Soften your gaze. Drop your chin a little and let your gaze fall gently downward. It’s not necessary to close your eyes. You can simply let what appears before your eyes be there without focusing on it.
- Feel your breath.Bring your attention to the physical sensation of breathing: the air moving through your nose or mouth, the rising and falling of your belly, or your chest.
- Notice when your mind wanders from your breath. Inevitably, your attention will leave the breath and wander to other places. Don’t worry. There’s no need to block or eliminate thinking. When you notice your mind wandering gently return your attention to the breath.
- Be kind about your wandering mind. You may find your mind wandering constantly—that’s normal, too. Instead of wrestling with your thoughts, practice observing them without reacting. Just sit and pay attention. As hard as it is to maintain, that’s all there is. Come back to your breath over and over again, without judgment or expectation.
- When you’re ready, gently lift your gaze (if your eyes are closed, open them). Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment. Notice how your body feels right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions.
(Adapted from www.mindful.org)
For anyone interested in learning more about mindfulness and self-care practices, here are some videos that offer some more in-depth perspectives. If you are looking for help in developing and building your mindfulness practice, please feel free to reach out to schedule your appointment, or schedule online today.