Mindfulness is a technique for slowing down our lives and learning to live in the moment rather than obsessing about the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness exercises are a way to relax and distance ourselves from stressful and distressing thoughts. It’s a surprisingly easy and effective technique to learn.
We have all experienced that never ending brain chatter of what we failed to do, or how we messed up that last presentation, or how we are not being a good enough parent, or spouse, or son or daughter. You know that negative conversation that seemingly goes on and on every minute of day inside our heads.
The practice of mindfulness helps to calm that endless chatter in our minds and bring peace and acceptance to our lives. Mindfulness is easy to learn. You can do it anywhere, anytime, in the car, walking down the street or while you are eating dinner. It’s easy to incorporate it into your day to day life.
Mindfulness is paying attention to what we are experiencing without judging it. When we are mindful we notice things which we might normally have missed. For instance, what sounds can you hear right now? Maybe there’s a clock ticking somewhere. Normally we wouldn’t notice a clock ticking in the fast paced busyness of our lives, however when we are being aware of our thoughts we are slowing down and taking notice of what’s going on around us. This is what mindfulness is.
One of the common exercises for beginning to live mindfully is to practice eating a raisin. Go ahead take a raisin and eat it as you normally would. Then take another raisin, but before putting it in your mouth notice it’s texture, Roll it around in your fingers. What does it feel like? Notice the color and smell it. Is it heavy? Smooth or rough? Then take the raisin, put it in your mouth and roll it around in your mouth. Notice how it feels as you move it around. Savor the taste before you bite into it. Once you’ve thoroughly explored the raisin in your mouth, take a bite. What a taste sensation! Now didn’t the second raisin taste way better than the first?
Learning How to Be Mindful in Everyday Life
Mindfulness is finding a new awareness in your life. Practice this awareness exercise the next time you are washing the car: be aware of the sound of the water, the temperature of the water, and the shininess of the car. Do this and you’ll find new delight in washing your car.
The next time you are out walking notice your surroundings, the sound your feet make as you walk, your breath, the wind on your face, the smell of the air. When you bring this awareness into your life it helps to calm that busy brain we have that is always thinking, planning, and worrying. Can you see how mindfulness can help you reduce your stress?
The core belief in the practice is that we can’t change our past, no matter how much we go over the events in our minds. We can’t predict the future because we really don’t know what is going to happen, so why do we spend so much time worrying about it? The only thing we can do is live in the moment. It’s what’s happening now that we need to focus on, not the past, and not the future.