Have you been hearing a lot about Mindfulness lately?
It’s gaining in popularity as a way to reduce stress and anxiety and increase happiness.
You’d be surprised how many moments of your day go by WITHOUT your conscious attention to the here and now.
Ever had a time when you were driving and suddenly realized you missed or almost missed a turn? Or that you were further along the road than you realized because you were driving on auto-pilot? At times like that, the body and the mind are doing two different things. Mindless.
I like to think of Mindfulness as your Mind and Body in same place at same time doing the same thing. Your body can only be in the here and now; but your mind can be all over the place.
How to do it?
People often ask me how to “do Mindfulness”… is it meditation or what?
While there are mindfulness meditations you can do, it is a way of being so you do not need to meditate to be mindful. You can start with mindful awareness of your sensory experiences. You can use your senses of: Sight, Hearing, Taste, Smell, Touch.
Here are just a few strategies for beginners to get an experience of mindfulness:
Eat a Raisin
Eat one raisin…mindfully. Take 4 minutes to pick up, look at, eat, taste and mindfully experience that raisin. Try to chew it at least 250 times! It is possible!
Notice everything you can about that raisin-eating experience… taste, texture, saliva production, how your tongue and teeth move, how you swallow, etc.
1. Sit still and bring your attention to what you can hear right now. You’ll probably notice that one noise jumps out at you – perhaps the loudest or most annoying.
2. Now, listen hard for what else you can hear at the same time. Closing your eyes can help. Do your best to divide your attention equally between every noise that you can hear. This will probably be challenging at first.
3. Notice when one particular sound has taken up your full attention, or when your mind simply wanders. Bring your attention back to all the noises and focus again on dividing your attention among all of them equally.
Do this for a few minutes and then notice how you feel compared to when you started.
Sitting Mindfulness Meditation
Science shows mindfulness and meditation help reduce anxiety. There are many, many techniques. This one is from Dr. Mark Hyman.
Sit in a comfortable position. Try to sit in the same place each day. Avoid positions that you might fall asleep in.
a. The back is long and supports itself.
b. Shoulders are relaxed downward, the neck is long, and the chin is pointing neither up nor down.
c. The face is relaxed.
Begin to breathe (preferably through the nostrils). Feel the belly rise, the ribs expand, and the slight movement in the collarbones and shoulders as the breath moves upward. Feel the exhalation.
Focus on one aspect of the breath.
a. The movement of air in and out of the nostrils.
b. Or the lifting and falling of the belly.
Watch that one aspect of the breath.
a. When the mind wanders, gently bring it back to the breath and the aspect you have chosen to watch.
b. Do this as many times as you need to.
c. There is no such thing as a good or bad meditation. (Good and bad are judgments, events in the mind – just note them and go back to the breathing.)
Start with 5–10 minutes and then increase the time until you can sit for 30 minutes.