“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the moment non-judgementally” – Jon Kabbat-Zinn
With its recent growing popularity, many of you have probably heard the term “mindfulness” over the last few years and wondered what exactly it is. Whether it was during a yoga class, on television or from a friend, during those times you have probably been intrigued by the practice and what benefits it could bring to your daily life. The following are some tips and guidelines in regards to starting to practice mindfulness TODAY.
First of all, I should mention there are a few ways to practice mindfulness. First, there is formal practice. This practice can be seen similar to meditation, where you set aside time to complete just mindfulness practice. Below is an example you can try by setting aside 15-20 minutes for a formal mindfulness practice;
Body Scan Meditation
Start with a few minutes of breath meditation – noticing the rising and falling sensations in the belly with each breath. Next, bring your attention to the sensations of contact with the chair and the floor. Once you have a sense of your body in space, bring your attention to the toes of one foot. Notice all the sensations coming from these toes. Observe whether they seem warm or cold, relaxed or tense. See if you can notice how the sensations coming from your toes are not solid, but rather are made up of a series of momentary micro-sensations strung together over time. Try to bring an attitude of interest or curiosity to these sensations, observing how they subtly change from moment to moment. Should you notice at some point that your mind has wandered into thoughts or been drawn to other sensations, gently bring it back to the sensations in your toes.
The meditation proceeds in this manner. The order in which you scan your body regions isn’t crucial, though it’s easiest to sustain attention if you do this systematically, moving progressively from one end of the body to the other.
Throughout this exercise, try to cultivate an attitude of curiosity, interest, and investigation toward all the sensations coming from your awareness. Practice accepting whatever you discover, whether it’s a pleasant sensation or an unpleasant one. As in other forms of meditation, whenever you notice that the mind has wandered away from the particular area you’re exploring, gently bring it back.
- Sourced from “The Mindfulness Solution” by Ronald D. Siegel
The other, and perhaps easiest way to begin practicing mindfulness, is informal practice. Informal practice allows you to practice mindfulness at any point in the day, no matter where you are or what you are doing (i.e. brushing your teeth, going to the park with your children, in a meeting at work). They are ways to simply allow you to engage in the present moment while engaging your senses and below is an example of how you can practice mindfulness during your morning routine;
Mindfulness in Your Morning Routine
Pick an activity that constitutes part of your daily morning routine, such as brushing your teeth, shaving, making the bed, or taking a shower. When you do it, totally focus attention on what you’re doing: the body movements, the taste, the touch, the smell, the sight, the sound, and so on. Notice what’s happening with an attitude of openness and curiosity.
For example, when you’re in the shower, notice the sounds of the water as it sprays out of the nozzle, as it hits your body, and as it gurgles down the drain. Notice the temperature of the water, and the feel of it in your hair, and on your shoulders, and running down your legs. Notice the smell of the soap and shampoo, and the feel of them against your skin. Notice the sight of the water droplets on the walls or shower curtain, the water dripping down your body and the steam rising upward. Notice the movements of your arms as you wash or scrub or shampoo.
When thoughts arise, acknowledge them, and let them come and go like passing cars. Again and again, you’ll get caught up in your thoughts. As soon as you realize this has happened, gently acknowledge it, note what the thought was that distracted you, and bring your attention back to the shower.
- Sourced from “The Happiness Trap” by Russ Harris
Mindfulness is a great strategy to help you to engage in your daily life and avoid functioning on auto-pilot day in and day out. It is a way to help you to stop and smell the roses in life (or as seen below, enjoy the scenery during a walk) while learning to accept all that you may face on a daily basis. I hope incorporating mindfulness into your life benefits you as much as it has benefited me!