We tend to lead busy, plugged in, hectic lives that often make it difficult for us to slow down and feel at ease. This can leave us feeling like we’re living two feet outside our bodies, disconnected, and rarely aware of what we’re feeling and thinking. Mindfulness is the practice of noticing your experience (bodily sensations, thoughts, feelings) in the present moment with openness and non-judgment. Research has shown that engaging in the practice of mindfulness can increase mental wellness and reduce stress.
Here are 4 on-the-go practices to incorporate mindfulness into your day:
1) Check in with your 5 senses. Notice what you smell, taste, feel, see, and hear at any given moment. This can be while you’re making a meal, sitting in a meeting, or spending time with loved ones. Take a moment to label each of your senses with non-judgment.
2) Take 3 intentional deep breaths. Notice how your body feels as you breath in and out. This can be done anywhere: as you walk to your car, sit at a stoplight, or stand in the grocery store checkout line. Your breath is always with you to connect you to the present moment.
3) Walking. While you walk, pay attention to what it feels like. How do your shoes feel on your feet? Notice your feet touching the floor or ground. Bring awareness to the sensation of your legs moving as you walk from place to place.
4) Immerse yourself in a daily activity. Choose one daily activity (handwashing, typing, driving, listening to music) to complete with awareness. For example, when you wash your hands, really pay attention to the scent of the soap, color of the soap, how the water feels running over your hands, and what the water looks like.
There is no right or wrong way to practice mindfulness. Even if you notice unpleasant emotions or thoughts arising – that is fine! Simply notice those thoughts and feelings with non-judgment too. All thoughts are welcome and all emotions are allowed. Mindfulness is not a task to complete or a coping skill to wield (although it can be used as a coping skill), rather it is a practice or a way of being to engage more meaningfully with your lived experience. What other ideas do you have? How might you pay closer attention in your daily life to cultivate the practice of mindfulness?
By: Patricia McGuire, LPC-MHSP