Mindfulness & Meditation
So often life passes us by as if we are on auto-pilot, days come and go and every once in a while we pause and wonder how we got to where we are. Mindfulness is the practice of checking in, of pausing, of noticing; the best part about it is that anyone can do it, anywhere, and at any time. You just need to practice.
When we start to develop mindfulness within ourselves, it gives us the ability to become more present in our lives, bringing awareness and appreciation to where we are and what we are doing. For some this could mean slowing down and being more attentive to loved ones, or making the most of little moments like washing the dishes or car rides together. For others this could mean noticing negative thought patterns and making an effort to shift the way we respond to triggers instead of being reactive. It means shifting the way we engage with ourselves and those around us in a more conscious and intentional way.
Oftentimes, we get so caught up in our to do list, stuck on auto-pilot as we move through our day, that we don’t even take time to meet our bodily needs or take a mental break. As a result we get worn out and come home feeling drained with nothing left in our tank to enjoy the most important part of our day. Mindful Minutes are a great way to practice checking in with yourself and giving yourself the break you need to nourish your body and refresh your mind.
Set a couple of reminders or alarms on your phone for throughout the day, when your alarm goes off take a moment to check in with yourself
Take some deep breaths and notice any sensations or tension you might be holding on to
Check in with your body. Have you drunk enough water so far in the day? Do you need to step away from what you’ve been caught up in and get some fresh air?
Give yourself a chance to reset and re-evaluate what you’re doing at that time
Indulge in Your Sense
Do you ever find yourself at the end of a meal only to realize you barely tasted your food (despite spending almost an hour cooking it), or find you’re rushing through one activity just to get to the next one. Mindfulness involves slowing down and using your senses to notice and appreciate life's experiences.
Select a couple of activities that you do regularly throughout the week, this can be eating meals, taking the dog for a walk, or even laying in bed before you fall asleep
As you go through this activity, bring your attention to each of your five sense one at a time: touch, taste, smell, sound and sight, to fully involve yourself in the experience
Enjoy the simplicity of only focusing on that one experience instead of letting your mind be in ten different places at once
Notice how the experience makes you feel and appreciate the time you have for that activity
Have you ever caught yourself ruminating on a negative thought, maybe playing out a scenario in your head that hasn’t even happened, thinking of all of the possible consequences and confrontations.. and then you wonder why and realize you could be thinking about something much more positive and productive. Oftentimes, these thoughts are like trains passing through our mind and we hop on for the ride without even realizing the downward spiral it might take us on. Mindfulness, and mindful meditation in particular, is a practice that helps you become more aware of your thoughts. It builds your capacity to become more aware of the thought trains that pass through your mind so you are able to make the conscious choice of whether or not you want to hitch a ride.
Sit comfortable in a space where you won’t be disturbed
Set a timer for 5 minutes (I really like the Calm apps timer option - it’s available without the paid membership)
Gently close your eyes and take three deep breaths all the way into your belly
As you resume your regular breaths bring your attention to your chest as it rises and falls with each breath
Continue to focus on your breath; if your mind wanders simply notice the thought and then gently and without judgment bring your attention back to your breath
Continue until your time is complete, once you get the hang of it, gradually increase your time according to what feels comfortable for you