A Lesson in Mindfulness

This past year-plus was tough on all of us, and as the world opens back up, the one thing I don’t want to lose is the focus on mindfulness.

Navigating the height of COVID was challenging. Nothing made sense, and everything could change in an instant. From what was open to the availability of products at the grocery store, nothing was certain. So, it became a forced lesson in mindfulness.

Learning to be mindful is about having a state of awareness of your experience without being overly reactive. It is also actively being present in the moment. Remaining present, more than anything, was my lesson: be present and don’t spend energy anticipating future moments out of your control.

Being actively present can apply to “being there” for your spouse, your kids, your friends, your coworkers, and, in my case, my clients. You are so actively aware of the present moment that you aren’t distracted by other internal dialogues.  This practice can also apply to developing a deeper understanding of your body, but that will be a future post.

The good news is that being mindful already resides in you; it is just a matter of learning to develop that skill.

How to develop mindfulness:

  • Make a plan. You don’t need a lot of time, 5 minutes or less will do, and you don’t need a particular place or gear. You just need a plan to train your mind.
  • Observe. Wherever you are, take a moment to observe the moment using your senses. What do you notice?
  • Ignore the inner judgy voice or the ongoing dialogue of what else you should be doing. The voice will come; the trick is to acknowledge it and let it go. I visualize these elements being put on clouds as I acknowledge them and then watch them drift away. Finally, you do what works for you; this is perhaps the most challenging part of the process.
  • Return to observing. Once you let those interruptions pass, you return to observing the present moment.
  • Rinse and Repeat. Mindfulness is a process of observing, acknowledging wandering and sometimes judgy thoughts, and returning to observe the moment.

It really is that simple to incorporate into your world.

You can take a few moments during a lunch break or even while waiting for your kids to finish their sports, dance, or other extracurricular activities. Although it is “simple” to incorporate into your day, I have to say… it isn’t necessarily easy to do. If you are like me, those wandering thoughts will come crashing through, and sometimes I have a hard time getting them up onto the clouds to drift away fast enough. Becoming more mindful, like any other training, is where practice comes in. The more frequently you do it, you begin to change the brain’s structure, and it will become easier to do.

Until next time…

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