What is mindfulness? There are multiple definitions that can be found if you were to google mindfulness. The definition that resonates the most with me goes something like “mindfulness is the non-judgmental awareness of your thoughts, emotions, and body that allows you to be present in the moment”. A great way to think about mindfulness is to take a moment to think about the opposite of mindfulness. Have you ever been on the highway and looked around and all sudden had a moment of panic because you weren’t sure where you were? Did I pass my exit? Did I go too far? Then you see a landmark and realize your fine you didn’t miss you exit, whew nothing to worry about. That my friends, is what is called being on auto-pilot. Think about it? You were literally operating a vehicle, probably at high speeds, and your mind was literally not present at all for that experience.
We can find ourselves on auto-pilot throughout the day. Anytime we are lost in our thoughts, our worries, and/or our to-lists we are most likely operating on auto-pilot. We can find ourselves attaching judgement to ourselves and our thoughts. For example: I can’t believe that I forgot to that today, why can’t I just fall asleep, this is so stupid why do I keep thinking about this, or I am so stupid. Mindfulness tells us we don’t have to follow every thought and feeling we have. Our minds think that is what they do, and our bodies feel. We don’t have to apply judgement to these things and follow them around town.
How do we do this? By practicing having a non-judgmental awareness through mindfulness meditation and other examples of mindfulness such as: mindful walking, mindful driving, mindful eating, etc.
Anytime we shift our awareness away from our thoughts and those pesky to-do lists and come out of future or past thinking we can focus on the present moment at hand. We can retrain our brain that we don’t have to follow every thought, which allows us to live in the present moment. Generally future thinking is where anxiety lives and past thinking or rumination is where depression lives. Both ways of thinking are not in reality and the only thing they do affect is our present moment. Mindfulness is a practice that allows us to anchor back to the present moment.
Below are 4 quick tips for practicing mindfulness throughout your day
Breathing is one of the few automatic functions that we also have control over when we choose. We can use our breath as an anchor in the present moment. Allow yourself to draw awareness to your breath and the rise and fall of your chest. When you notice that your mind has wandered to a thought without judgement gently draw your attention back to your breath and the rise and fall of your chest. On the inhale, your rib cage expands and your belly rises and on the exhale everything falls back towards your spine. Allow yourself to take several breaths.
When you are at a stoplight allow yourself to draw attention back to your environment. Do not fiddle with the radio or your phone. Take a few mindful breaths and look around. Take note of the color of the sky, the cars around you, what do you hear, or smell. Look out your window, look around do you notice anything new.
Place the food in your hand. Observe the wrapping. Feel the weight. Notice anything new about the food? Bring the food to your nose. Inhale. What do you smell? Did your body react? Did your mouth water? Notice any desires to eat the food. Did they get stronger? Did your mouth water or your stomach growl? Now place the food in your mouth. Do not chew and then chewing slowly. Allowing yourself to notice the texture, is it changing? Can you smell the food? What does it taste like? Does the taste change? What does your body do? When you finish take a moment to reflect on what that experience was for you. Are you satisfied? How was that different from how you normally eat chocolate?
Go for a walk and take a few deep breaths. Feeling the rise and fall of your chest and the air in and out of your noise. Listen to the sounds around you: your feet hitting pavement, birds, leaves rustling, or traffic. Is it cool or warm, do you feel the sun on your face? Look around: are the flower blooming, are the leaves falling? Allow yourself to tune in to your environment around you.
Hello! Welcome to my Blog on self care . I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Registered Yoga Teacher.