Mindfulness. Presence. Being in the moment.
All three of the above essentially mean the same thing – and practicing them can bring you more emotional and relationship health. It’s a practice, a reconditioning and training of your mind that can be done in meditation – or in every day life simply bringing your attention to things you might normally miss.
Some of the ways being “present” can help you:
- Decrease stress
- Increase clarity and focus
- Take attention away from the future worry of anxiety
- Take attention away from the past sadness of depression
- Bring your attention to the beauty around you
- Enhance communication in your relationships
- Increase resilience
- Decrease emotional reactivity
- Find inner peace
See the article, Mindfulness: A Powerhouse of Benefits for Emotional Health, for more.
Ok, I’m sold. How can I start practicing mindfulness right now?
- Stop, close your eyes and breathe. Notice your lungs fill and release.
- Notice something beautiful in your environment, that you may have never seen before. Take time to admire it.
- Intentionally reflect on what’s going right in your life.
- Bite your tongue before you say something possibly hurtful. Imagine how the person might feel.
- At your next meal, savor the food. Notice the textures and flavors.
- Lay down on grass or a park bench. Close your eyes and feel the sun, notice the sounds and smells.
- Tonight when you go to bed, think of 3 things that you are grateful for.
- The next time you are upset, before reacting, notice what’s really going on. Be compassionate for yourself and the wounds you may carry.
- Practice your “human being” vs “human doing” skills.
- Take a social networking, e-mail and phone break. Shut it all down for a few minutes. Without the distraction, notice your surroundings.
- Play with your child with the same presence that he or she has. Children have mindfulness down pat.
See my article, 5 Ways to Rewire Your Brain for Happiness and Peace of Mind inspired by a workshop by Rick Hanson, PhD.
To learn to incorporate and make mindfulness work in your life, there’s another excellent learning tool that was actually created for therapists but I believe has a goldmine of information and guidance for the layman as well. Some of the top experts in the field of mindfulness offer their wisdom via downloadable videos, audios and transcripts including Pat Ogden, PhD, a pioneer in somatic psychology, Jack Kornfield, PhD, a leading Buddhist teacher in the U.S., Tara Brach, PhD, author of Radical Acceptance and others.
It’s called the Making Mindfulness Work program and it’s offered through The National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine. The package includes downloadable videos, audios and transcripts for the most convenient learning mode for you.
“Being in the moment” doesn’t mean you have wrap yourself in a monk’s robe and go sit on a mountain for 30 days and 30 nights in silent meditation. Sure, meditation is a powerful ally in practicing mindfulness (and one that has been shown to actually help rewire your brain) but you can learn to be present in other ways too.
If you find yourself “noticing” more…congratulations. You’re being mindful.