by Andrea Schrage, MA, LPC, CMT
This section will be dedicated to an ongoing look at simple ways to incorporate mindfulness in your everyday life. Over the course of several newsletters you will have a set of tools to pull out to create a healthier environment within you. One way to facilitate use of the exercises will be to focus on one for the next 2 months and really become fluent in it. Then you can move on in the succession of exercises that can build on each other.
What is mindfulness? Mindfulness in simplified terms is learning to be present in the current moment. Why would one want to do this? The list of benefits is very long but here are a few:
- Decreasing Anxiety
- Ability to make conscious choices
- Helps to reduce addictive patterns
- Changes your relationship with negative thoughts
- Allows you tune into answers from within
- Increases your sense of peace in the world
If you missed the first exercise on Mindful Eating, please feel free to go back and look at
our article on A Guide To Mindful Living
Benefits may include:
- Becoming more conscious of your senses.
- Feeling more connected to what is around you.
- Increased concentration.
- Increased ability to stay in the present moment.
- Stillness and peace.
- Upon waking or before sleeping.
- During a stressful time.
- Short breaks during the day
“I can’t meditate!”
Many people get frustrated at meditating because they think that they are only succeeding when they are in complete silence and feeling peace. That assumption is the opposite of mindfulness because it is trying to force a result verses relaxing into what is. We have a constant barrage of voices in our heads that are always judging the world and ourselves. They are usually being critical and can keep us in a state of worry.
In the beginning it is your job to keep moving from these voices back to your focus. The more you practice this, the longer the stretches will be between your focus and the voices. What you will find in that space will very from day-to-day; some days it will be still and peaceful and some days it will be sadness or anger. Whatever is there is exactly what is supposed to be there, so just notice it. Every time you find yourself in the thoughts, be thankful that you realized it and come back to your focus. We are constantly following the voices in our heads, so every time you even notice yourself in them, you are growing.
Basic Instruction for Mindful Listening
- Began by sitting in an upright position with your feet on the ground and your spine straight.
- Take 2-3 breathes and relax into your body as best as you can.
- Bring your attention the sounds around you.
- Open your ears and keep a focused attention on what you hear. You may notice stillness, ringing, traffic, the sounds of your house, air blowing, people talking etc. judgement.
- Open up to the most subtle of sounds and notice them without judging them. Let go of your assumptions about what is a pleasant sound and what might be irritating and listen to them as if it is the first time.
- When your mind wanders to thoughts, gently bring it back to listening.
That is it!
You may also want to try this while listening to people when they are talking to you. Really focus on what they are saying without your mind working on an instant reply. Notice what happens in your relationships when you really listen.