Over the past month I was once again challenged with a task that I have always dreaded. It seems like such a simple and natural one, but it is one of the hardest things I’ve done. Mindfulness.
Kabat-Zinn said that mindfulness is, “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.”
Isolate yourself from distractions. This doesn’t mean to hide under your blankets or in a dark room, but to find a calm environment where you know you can detach yourself from the norms of your daily life. Sit or lay in a comfortable position. Either close your eyes or focus on an object around you. Begin the practice with taking a deep breath; inhale through your nose and exhale out your mouth. Breathing is important in this exercise. Clear your mind of anything but the present moment. Do not think of yesterday, tomorrow, or even the next 10 minutes. Stay on the now. Now use your senses. What do you hear? Can you smell anything around you? What are your body sensations? If you feel yourself drifting out of the present moment, go back to focusing on your breathing. Inhale… exhale. If breathing is the only thing you can focus on, then make that your goal.
Commit yourself to this exercise for 5 minutes to start. But don’t think about the 5 minutes while you are practicing. Once you are done, check in with yourself and see how you feel compared to when you began. Do you feel more at peace? Do you feel less anxious? Do you feel more anxious? Do you feel tired? Do you feel more energized? Was this hard for you? Was this easy? Why or why not? You can find out a lot about yourself through practices like these.
Try this mindfulness practice a few times a week, especially if you struggle with staying present. This helps me stay grounded on days when I feel a bit jumbled– or when I just want to relax! You can do it. Believe in yourself… because I do!