Mindfulness: 3 steps to becoming present
If you read last weeks article The Bounty of Your Own Making, you are all well aware of the benefits of mindfulness. My favourite thing about mindfulness is that it improves your overall well-being without the use of pharmaceutical intervention and is usually for free.
Those who ignore mindfulness practices are ignoring the possibility to be less stressed, more focused, and less overwhelmed. All traits rated highly in a world that values productivity.
If you are not ready to go full Budha, then here are some tips to get you started on becoming more present.
Set a timer for 1 to 5 mins in a quiet room. Instead of trying to clear your mind, notice what thoughts are coming up for you. Try not to label them good or bad. Future thoughts tend to cause more anxiety and past thoughts tend to be related with depression. You can also notice what you feel in your body. Are your fists clenched? Are your shoulders up to your ears? Are there areas of your body you can let go and relax even deeper? This exercise allows the brain to process and reflect. If you neglect to unpack your day, the un-dealt with stress will likely show up somewhere else and usually when you least want it to. In fact, those who wake up in the middle of the night usually do so because their brain is trying to process what you didn’t during the day (if there isn’t another pathology present).
This next strategy is best used when you are having trouble turning your brain off. First start labelling 3 objects you see, 3 sounds you hear, and 3 physical things you feel. Then do the same saying 2 of each and then 1. The idea is that by the end you return your attention to the present moment. Another similar strategy is called alternate nostril breathing, where you close one nostril with your finger and breathe in for 4, and plug the alternate nostril and breathe out for 4 until you feel more grounded. I find these strategies only helpful if you are able to recognize when you need them. If not, I’d start with the strategy above to further develop your self awareness.
3. Minimize Distractions
Multi-tasking splits our focus and actually makes us less productive in the end. Think less is more. If you are eating your lunch, your main goal is to nourish. If you are having a conversation, you are listening to the person you are talking to. One easy way to minimize distractions is to limit exposure to your electronics. Important times to implement this are during meals and before bed.
The best way to improve mindfulness is to pick something and incorporate it into to your every day. Of course for those of you well into their mindfulness journey there is also meditation. You can try out apps, youtube videos, or try out your local meditation studio (like www.hoame.ca). I’ve been talking about mindfulness a lot on my personal Instragram. So if you are interested in learning more mindfulness tips, head on over and like @drdimunnond.
Mindfulness Questionnaire – how mindful are you? If you are curious how mindful you currently rate, I have a quiz developed from penstate university that will let you know. Email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org if you want a copy!