Mindfulness – 3 Easy Steps to Simply Try Now
What is Mindfulness?
What is Mindfulness?
A lot of people hear the word mindfulness and talk about practicing it, but what does being mindful really mean and how can it help on a daily basis? Mindfulness can be defined as simply being aware of the current moment by paying attention to your actions, thoughts, feelings or experiences without judging anything as bad, good, wrong or right. For me, mindfulness is about learning to pay attention on purpose, to even the smallest things, so that I experience and show gratitude for all that my life has to offer to fullest extent possible. There have been thousands of studies since the 1970’s that have shown practicing mindfulness can improve your mental and physical health. A regular practice of mindfulness can also enhance relationships, improve focus, creativity, increase self-esteem, expand your compassion towards others, and reduce the symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression.
Have you ever been driving somewhere and when you reach your destination you don’t fully remember getting there because you were so distracted or preoccupied with your thoughts? It’s especially easy to do when we’re going through the motions of our mundane regular routine and if you’re anything like me you know exactly what I’m talking about! After all there are always so many things we have to worry about just to take care of our basic needs like work, food, shelter and health without even starting on the bigger social and political issues. Of course we also have the electronic distractions with our smart phones, computers and tablets. Moving through your day in this manner is often referred to as being on “auto-pilot” because you accomplish your tasks with very little thought or awareness. At certain times living your life on auto-pilot can be an effective type of survival technique. However I don’t believe anyone really wants to find themselves reflecting back on how they spent their time only realize they can barely remember what they did let alone the special moments of their day, week, or possibly even the last year of their life.
Mindfulness Exercises and Techniques
Mindfulness Exercises and Techniques
Naturally there are a lot of effective mindfulness exercises to choose from and the most advanced involve meditation. The most formal and studied approaches are Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindful-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). MBSR is typically an eight week program that was developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. MBSR was designed to assist people with pain and a range of conditions and life issues that were initially difficult to treat in a hospital setting. MBCT was derived from MBSR and was designed to specifically help people struggling with recurring depression. You can find a wealth of information about both of these programs on the web including local resources in your area.
In an ideal world we all have the time, commitment and follow-thru to complete a mindfulness meditation every day by ourselves or in a group. For now, let’s try some simple mindfulness exercises you can do in just a few minutes and start right away by yourself!
1. Every time you brush your teeth:
- Notice the smell and the taste of the toothpaste
- Listen to the sound as you brush each tooth
- Pay attention to how every part of your mouth feels and even your hand holding the brush
- Look at yourself in the mirror and smile before and after (you might make a mess if you smile while you brush!)
2. Breathe in and out eight times:
- Inhale the good air (oxygen).
- Exhale the air your body has used and no longer needs (carbon dioxide).
- Say to yourself, in with the good and out with the bad.
- With each breath, touch your thumb to your pointer finger, middle finger, ring finger, pinky finger and repeat for at least eight focused breaths.
- We breathe anywhere from 17,000-30,000 times a day without even realizing it.
- Notice your breath and express gratitude for the magnificent miracle you are!
3. Pick a color, any color, and simply observe:
- Whether you’re at home, driving, at work or doing any other daily activity, look around for the color you picked.
- You can count how many time you see the color, note the different ways the color is used, how it makes you feel or even what type of people are wearing specific colors.
- If you’re in a meeting or a class you can try picking a color and setting a specific intention. For example you can use the following:
Colors with Intentions
Connected to Others
Motivation and Intellectual Drive
Love and Compassion
Speaking Your Truth / Opinion
Creativity or Inner Strength
Inspired or Intuitive Thoughts
Why does being mindful matter?
At a TED talk Mel Robbins, a self-help author and motivational speaker, stated that scientists estimate the probability of each of us being born exactly when we were is about on in 400 trillion! I don’t know about you, but just thinking about that makes me feel pretty special. We are all unique and we all have special gifts to share with the world.
Have you ever heard the story of the magic bank account? The basis is that every day we all wake up with bank account balance of $86,400. We have the freedom to choose how we will spend every bit of it. However the full balance has to be spent in one day and at any moment the account can be closed, forever. The original author is unknown and the video below gives you great understanding of the concept however there are also detailed versions of story available. Even though he technically states the wrong amount, this is a great video worth spending a minute of your time on!
Making it Count Video - Harlem Elvis by John X. Carey
Being present in the moment and practicing mindfulness is an important part of finding ways to honor your unique gifts and use them to make a positive difference. By simply being aware of your thoughts and how you spend your time, more abundance and the things you truly want from life will start to natural flow to you. As Mike Dooley, a New York Times bestselling author and inspirational speaker, says “Thoughts become things... choose the good ones!”
Being Mindful can be as Easy as ABC!
Becoming more mindful doesn’t have to be difficult. You will notice a positive difference and shift in your overall mindfulness just by consistently spending a few minutes a day on anyone of these easy to use mindfulness exercises. Here’s a simple ABC mindful mantra you can use:
Awareness and Appreciation for Being and Believing in the present moment, here and now, and Concentrating on more Compassion for myself and others to raise everyone’s Consciousness!
No one is perfect but we are all perfectly created and unique. We're all in this game of life together. We are all here to learn. We can all teach one another something simply by sharing our experiences. As the great Dr. Wayne Dyer said “Don’t Die With Your Music Still In You”. I truly believe mindfulness can help each of us express our true selves and achieve our goals!
There are countless informal to formal methods you can choose from to practice mindfulness. The best part is that there is no judgement and no wrong way, so just go for it and give it a try!
I would love to hear about your personal practices and experiences! I also welcome any and all feedback so please feel free to leave a comment.
I wish you a life filled with an abundance of purpose, passion, light and love!