At the most basic level, mindfulness is simply being aware of what’s happening as it’s happening. Being mindful means that you become aware of the workings of your mind, at that moment. Here are some suggestions for bringing mindful moments to your day.
- Get Grounded. (try this for at least 5 minutes) Sit comfortably with your bare feet on the floor. Pay attention to your breath - don't change it, just notice it. Imagine that your feet are growing roots. See your roots stretching out into the rich, nourishing earth. Ask the Earth to give you it's grounding energy and feel the strength of the minerals beneath you anchoring you and pulling any stress or anxiety down into the richness of the soil. Notice your breath again and continue to feel the Earth's energy as long as you like. When you feel more centered and grounded, send some of your own energy to the Earth in gratitude and slowly bring your roots back into your feet.
- Notice the Moment. Take a moment to stop and be in the moment. Pay attention to the details around you. Are you hot or cold? Can you identify three different colors around you? What texture is your clothing? What sounds do you hear? Notice your breath. Notice your present emotion. Don't try to change anything, just notice. Doing this in times of stress can help with emotional regulation.
- Be Present. Bring yourself into the present can be simply focusing on what you are doing. Try eating a piece of fruit: What size is it? Is it shiny or dull? What color is it? When you bite into it, is it crunchy or soft? Sour or sweet? Is it juicy? Does it make your mouth water or pucker up? How many times do you chew before swallowing?
- Mindful Tasks. Try mindfully washing the dishes. What is the temperature of the water? How does it feel on your hands? Does the water have a lot of soap suds? What is the texture of the sponge or rag you are using? Notice the sounds of the dish washing and all around you. Is there anything you hear that you didn’t notice before? You can be mindful with any daily task.
- Calming Mindfulness. Spend time slowly petting or brushing a pet. Really notice the fur. Is it soft or coarse? Does the petting motion affect your emotion? Do you feel more calm?
Living in the moment can be truly transformative.
The science behind it: Science has proven, beyond any doubt, that a steady practice of mindfulness induces real beneficial changes in the brain. When practicing mindfulness, you deliberately direct your awareness back into the now and focus your attention there. By following this thought pattern repeatedly, over time, your brain actually physically changes. Through a process called neuroplasticity, the brain forms new connections and default neuronal pathways to support this kind of thinking, even when not consciously practicing mindfulness. Studies have shown mindfulness to significantly improve a variety of conditions including anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Mindfulness has also proven successful in preventing relapse of chronic depression and substance abuse.