What's all the buzz about mindfulness?
You’ve probably heard the latest buzz about “mindfulness,” and wondered what it is or how you would apply it to your life? It can be as simple as taking a few moments to FOCUS on yourself.
Being mindful means paying close attention to what’s happening IN THE MOMENT. Very simply, mindfulness is about being PRESENT
-Mindfulness means NOTICING what's happening inside your mind and in your body. For example you might a get pain in your stomach thinking about preparing your taxes!
-Mindfulness means being AWARE of what's happening around you. You might notice flowers in full bloom as you're driving to work
-Mindfulness means not putting a label on what's happening. Don't judge your FEELINGS as being good or bad, they just are!
-Mindfulness is about OBSERVING. You notice your life with a little distance, instead of reacting emotionally.
-Mindfulness is the opposite of being on 'AUTO-PILOT', meaning when you do things without any thought or consideration.
You're on autopilot, for instance, when you back out of your driveway and head to work on a Saturday when you meant to go to beach!
How Do I know if I'm doing it right?
You can focus on the present anytime, anywhere. Whilst in your car, or standing in a line, or at work.
Why not try “single-tasking.” That's doing one thing at a time and giving it your full attention. It can be on something as simple as cleaning your teeth or eating a piece of fruit.
Here's how to be mindful when you have a few minutes to yourself and don't need to concentrate on a more pressing task (like driving!)
First, pause and focus on your body. Notice what you see and hear. You can also check what you smell, taste, and feel. Don't label these sensations as good or bad. Just let them go.
Then narrow your focus. What do feel in your body? Notice subtle sensations like an itch or tingling. Give each part of your body a moment of your full attention. Start with your head and move to your toes.
Be more intent on your breath. Where in your body do you feel it most? Let your attention rest here.
Ask yourself, “How am I in this moment?” Acknowledge your thoughts and emotions. Spend a few moments with them, being with things as they are. Allow your feelings to be present without judgment.
When your mind wanders (and it will!), simply return to your breath. There's no need to beat yourself up for losing focus.
Why Practice Mindfulness?
Being mindful helps you notice when you're on auto-pilot. That lets you change what you're doing in the moment, rather than regretting it later.
Let's say you find yourself eating a bag of chips in front of the TV...your evening pattern. Being mindful can help you break free from the autopilot trance and take a moment to make a different choice. You could trade the chips for carrots, or decide to skip TV and take a walk around the block instead.
Mindfulness can keep you in touch with your goals and hopes. Focusing on the moment keeps you from reacting quickly and doing what you usually do without thinking about it -- like feeling stressed and grabbing a big block of chocolate.