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One of those flashy, buzz words of late. What does being mindful even mean? According to the trusty old Oxford dictionary, mindfulness is:
“the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.”
“a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
Seems straightforward, right?
Well maybe, but how do we actually practice this stuff? Who here is present in and out of every day?
The answer, no one. And, since you’re here, I’m guessing this has been something you have been trying to get better at. If you have been to therapy or not, you may have heard of or been recommended certain mindfulness strategies and techniques to practice to up your mindfulness game. Here at MFS, we have heard it all in responses to these recommendations:
- “Let’s try it!”
- “I find it hard to practice mindfulness.”
- “Mindfulness activities aren’t really my thing.”
- “Yeah, I don’t think I’m going to try that” (honesty is the best policy)
When I hear those comments of struggle, I often ask that individual if there is anything they do that really grabs their attention and/or keeps their mind focused. Some folks have that thing, that activity, that state of mind; some others don’t have it.
To the people that do have that activity that really grabs their attention, recognize that! Realize it. Then, find ways to do it more. It’s a busy world, but taking time to practice will make you more present in all other areas and that is the goal.
To the people that don’t have that activity already in their life – secret – you probably are already practicing mindfulness, you just don’t realize it yet. Below, I shared a few of my activities that I do in my practice; see if any of them resonate with you or give you an idea of how you can incorporate more mindfulness into your day.
-Exercise: Great for many things. But for me, on my spin bike – this is the time my to-do list, and other life stressors are nowhere to be found. Music surrounding me, the feeling of burning quads, the beads of sweat dripping into my eye, and my heart beating faster and faster. This is my mindfulness...Not allowing my brain to think of my “to do” list, what I forgot to pick up at the grocery store or anything from the past or future, just sitting within my current sense.
-Painting/Drawing/Writing: I don’t know about you, but I find it really difficult to paint or draw while thinking of all.the.things. Notice how present you must be to really make sure that flower or tree looks just as you want it on your canvas or paper.
-Baking/Cooking: This is one of my favorites and go-tos. I find myself gravitating towards a new recipe or one with some extra steps so I have to increase my attention on the present moment so I don’t burn something, add too much salt, or figure out what “blanching” means.
These are just a few examples of ways I am already practicing mindfulness in my daily life, without really having to change my routine or schedule. Mindfulness is helpful for both your physical and mental well being, so give it a try and think of what activities you’re already doing that help support your wellness through mindfulness. Keep doing them & incorporate more frequently when emotions are running high.