It’s probably a word that you have seen before. Whether you learned about it from friends or family. Maybe in a book, from a tv show, or over the radio. At school, your gym, maybe even in the grocery store. Below are some other terms that may be familiar, and which also describe components of mindfulness:
- Enjoying the Present Moment
- Deep Breathing
The term seems to show up almost everywhere we look!
So … is it really worth all the hype?
In my opinion – the short answer is Yes! Mindfulness can be a simple, effective practice in reducing stress, managing emotional regulation/moods, improving focus, and even in helping with relationship interactions. Do note – that even though I just described it as “simple,” mindfulness practices may not necessarily come easily for everyone. As with so many other goals we create for living healthier, more balanced lives, it takes lots of small steps, and – practice, practice, practice.
So, maybe it begins with one morning out of your week. It could look something like this:
After waking up in the morning, stretch your limbs, sit at the edge of the bed with your feet on the ground. Close your eyes if that feels comfortable. Notice your breath moving in and out of your nose. Begin to notice what happens with any other physical sensations in your body. There may be thoughts that enter your mind. Acknowledge them, and allow them to move past, perhaps imagining them like clouds in the sky. See that they float by, getting smaller and smaller. Come back to the breath. Inhale and exhale. Just like this …
You can start this brief, meditative practice for 60 seconds. A simple gesture of awareness-building to begin your day. Not sure it would work for you in the morning? Mindfulness and meditation can happen at any point during the day! No matter when you decide to incorporate it, set yourself up for success with a few key ingredients. Find a designated space for it, with a low-level of noise or distraction, and bring yourself to your breath. Over time, you might increase the practice to several minutes, or even longer.
There are so many ways to use mindfulness in your life – meditation is only one of them! Next time you’re on your lunch break, consider taking a mindful walk. It could be around your office, outside, or wherever you can get a little movement in. Keep all phones and tablets at your desk. Take in all sights, and sounds – engaging in all of your senses. Have you ever experienced what it’s like to discern the texture of air moving around you? Or the way the temperature feels on your skin? Take some time – maybe 10 minutes to start – and notice the way your feet land on the ground. Walking purposefully, stepping all the way from heel to toe.
Perhaps these two mindfulness practices could be applied today to your everyday routine. If you’re interested in learning more about mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or other body-mind connections, here are just a few resources:
- Headspace (has a free 10-day beginner’s course available!)
- Insight Timer
- Books / Pioneers
- The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle
- The Miracle of Mindfulness, by Thich Nhat Hanh
- Wherever You Go, There You Are, Jon Kabat-Zinn
- Start Where You Are, Pema Chödrön
Mindfulness pioneer Jon Kabat-Zinn has said that, “mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience.” Among the ‘hustle and bustle’ of all your occupational, physical, and personal expectations and responsibilities, act as a friend to yourself. It is truly the relationship in our life which needs the most attention, as it is the one that will last the longest!
Have some mindfulness practices that you already integrate into your life and want to share? Comment on this post! And, if you want to get started but are unsure of where to begin, or if you’re looking to strengthen existing practices, please feel free to reach out to our office, A Better Life Therapy, LLC, at (267) 838-0066.
Befriend yourself. Be well. Namaste (the light in me, honors the light in you).
Carly McDade, LMFT is a therapist practicing in Center City Philadelphia. Carly uses mindfulness based practices to support individuals, couples, and familes. You can reach Carly directly at McDadeMFT@gmail.com or by using the contact form below.