Small Steps Towards Being More Mindful by Kris Winslow, LMFT

meditationPeople who don’t have time to devote towards a study of mindfulness can still take small steps in learning to be more mindful. We sometimes get so caught up in the whirlwind that is life that we become mentally absent from our own bodies. There are ways to train the mind so you don’t find yourself missing out on any of life’s great moments. We all need to set aside time to slow down and unplug. Just practicing any of these exercises for 10-15 minutes a day can make a substantial difference.

● Walk: Walk anywhere, but make the walk about the journey and not the destination. Feel your footsteps hit the ground and really connect with what is beneath it. Listen to any noises that occur and just hear them without judgment. Look around. Pay attention to your breathing and the way that your body feels. You can allow yourself to be in the moment whether you are walking the dog or to your next meeting.

● Breathe: Spend some time to just focus on your breathing. Notice the length, depth and sound of each breath. If you are feeling stress, let yourself take deeper breaths.

● Listen: Listen to all the sounds around you at this moment. Choose one. Concentrate only on that sound.

● Do: Pick an everyday task and actually attend to each of the steps as you are going through them. We brush our teeth on a daily basis, but most of us stopped paying attention to what is going on in that moment a while ago. Act as if you are learning how to brush your teeth again and really pay attention to each step you take as you take it.

● Drive: Similar to the activity above, drive the way you did when you first learned how. You just need to take yourself off automatic pilot. You can feel and hear the door open. How does it feel to turn the key in the ignition and what sounds does your car make when turning on? What actions do you have to take to change lanes?

● Eat: Create a meal and enjoy the process. Don’t eat standing up at the counter, but set up a comfortable spot where you can really pay attention to your meal. Do this without the company of television or any electronics.

● Touch: Touch your hands together. Stomp your feet on the floor. Pat your head, face elbows and knees. What does it feel like to be in your body at this moment?

● Pause: Take a beat before you begin that next task. Become conscious of your surroundings before you respond to that next email or text. Check in with your emotional state before you enter into the next item on your to-do list.

Elana Clark-Faler
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