What full minds we have! They, quite literally, never get a break. From the moment we wake in the morning, there are the lists of things to do, places to go, work to accomplish, and people to see. And the way we push through the day is to multi-task. We brush our teeth while thinking about our morning presentation… we attend a meeting while updating ourselves on social media… we drive our cars while rehearsing a tough conversation we’ve been meaning to have with a friend.
It can be challenging to stay present to what’s going on around us, minute-to-minute, moment-to-moment. Each day we become victims to our own wandering mind. It is so easy to forget to be mindful, especially if we’ve never learned how to do it.
Mindfulness is the practice of bringing our full attention and awareness to the present moment. It asks that we pause and intentionally observe what is happening around us — the physical sensations, emotions, and thoughts we are experiencing — and to release any self-judgment or self-created drama. Mindfulness is about surrendering the need to be anywhere other than right here. It permits us to be with who we are and what we have right now. In doing so, we reconnect with ourselves in a more meaningful and centered way. A regular mindfulness practice helps relieve stress, improves mental and emotional clarity, has been shown to reduce pain, and lowers blood pressure.
There are countless approaches to practicing mindfulness, but a simple one is to take a comfortable seat and close your eyes as you relax into the chair. Become mindful of being in this room at this time. Feel the points of contact between you and the chair. Notice how, without even trying, your body conforms to the chair. Allow yourself to be held by the chair. Observe your feet on the ground and see how they are fully supported by the earth beneath you. Allow yourself to receive this support.
Place your attention on your breath and simply observe. As you breathe in, think to yourself, “I am breathing in.”
And as you breathe out, think, “I am breathing out.” Just follow it for five minutes. If you get distracted with thoughts just observe them, gently release them, and come back to the breath. Keep coming back. Again and again… slowly becoming more and more mindful of this one and only moment. Be with each breath. Just be.
When you’re ready come back to the room and, at your own pace, open your eyes to let in light and return to the world around you. You may feel calmer, relaxed, more clear-minded, or reenergized. Let whatever you’re experiencing be OK. Take some time to journal about what that was like for you. Gradually increase your practice to 15 or 20 minutes per day for maximum benefit.
Mindfulness allows us the much-needed time to decompress and gives us reprieve from what can often be an overstimulating, overwhelming, and very full mind.
Billy Rosa is a Registered Nurse, Integrative Nurse Coach