Mindfulness is the ability to cultivate awareness of the present moment while putting aside our lens of judgments. It is being in connection with the direct experience of the present moment, the here and now. When we can connect to the spaces of our lives with mindfulness we can experience ‘aha‘ moments of clarity where we can get in touch with an awareness of what really matters. A breadth of research is showing that engaging with mindfulness can help us heal stress, anxiety, depression, addiction, chronic pain, and open us up to joy, love, self-compassion and a greater sense of connection with ourselves and others. There is even evidence that mindfulness can help us to change our brains and create new, healthier patterns.
Many programs have been created to support people with various conditions of suffering that include mindfulness. These include Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for depression, Mindfulness-based Relapse Prevention (MBRP), Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
Mindfulness and meditation are often paths to loving “again the stranger who was yourself.”
Mindfulness can be practiced both formally and informally. I have had many people come to me and say, “I just don’t have the time to practice – between working, my kids and taking care of everything else it feels like I barely have time to breath.”
Even without the time and place in life to set up some formal practice there are opportunities throughout each day to engage life in a mindful way, opening you up to greater focus, calm, and peace.
Here are some tips on how to weave mindfulness into your everyday life:
- As you open your eyes in the morning, instead of jolting out of bed or immediately checking your phone, try and see if you can take a moment to check-in with yourself and take a few grounding breaths.
- As you get in the shower, notice if your mind is already at work thinking, planning, and rehearsing all the things that may happen that day. When you become aware of this bring your attention back to your senses, smelling the soap, feeling the sensation of the water on your body, listening to the sound of it in the shower… Becoming more present.
- If you have a family or partner, consider taking a morning to practice mindful listening and connecting with them before rushing out.
- As you leave the house, slow down slightly as you walk to the car, check in with your body and notice any tension. Try and soften it.
- As you drive let red lights be reminders to check in with your breath instead of stressing about the red light.
- If possible, maybe once a week, eat by yourself in silence, eat slightly slower and really tune into the sense of taste while eating. Even imaging where the food came from and all the people and elements that went into making this meal.
- When getting home, if you have a family, practice STOP (Stop, Take a breath, Observe – thoughts, feelings, emotions –, and Proceed). This tends to create a shift which sets the stage for you to be more calm and steady during challenging moments through the day.