5 Easy Tips for Practicing Mindfulness
Sharron Frederick, Clinical Psychotherapist at Clarity Health Solutions
Whenever I mention mindfulness in sessions with clients, the first reaction I get is “I have done meditation and I just can't do it, it is so difficult”. Believe it or not, there is actually a difference between meditation and mindfulness, although the practices do overlap. With meditation a person is normally seated with the intention of increasing “calmness, concentration, awareness and emotional balance, bringing awareness to the breath and consciously guiding the mind towards a single point of focus”, according to Chopra.com. Whereas mindfulness is being fully aware of the present moment with regards to your thoughts, feelings and physical sensations without judging them or trying to change them. It is your full awareness at that moment in time, allowing you to have an open mind. Accepting reality as it is.
Don’t get me wrong, the practice of mindfulness is as equally difficult as meditation and takes lots of practice but for me, the biggest difference is that you are allowing your thoughts to come and go freely without holding onto them or consciously trying to stop them.
So, I have some types of experiences with mindfulness, so you can give it a go.
Tip #1 - Use all 5 Senses
The first is practice on a regular basis to be present in the current moment. The way that I have figured out what works for me is to use my five senses, so one day I set out on a walk and I was really concentrating on what I was hearing. Unbeknownst to me, I had drifted off into my own thought process. My husband turned to me and said “I do not know how anyone lives next to that noisy generator”. I turned and looked at him in surprise and said “what noise?” Hilarious right, especially considering I was meant to be practicing mindfulness and had only been present for about 30 seconds before wandering off into my own little world.
Tip #2 - Notice and Accept the Feelings
Another time I experienced mindfulness I actually did a lot better. It was the summer before my twins were off to college and I happened to be in a park where they spent a lot of time in childhood, playing with friends and family, attending summer camps and then later on in life as camp counselors. I was really struggling with the fact that they were leaving and at the same time excited for their new adventure in life. I was standing on a bridge looking out at the water when I noticed a sensation of sadness starting to overcome me. Instead of trying to push the emotion down or even start judging myself for it, I just stood there in the moment and observed the feeling, the physical sensation and the thoughts, allowing them to go through my mind. I did not attempt to change the moment but accept the situation as it was. No sooner had the sadness started it slowly started to ebb away leaving me with a sense of calm. That is the healing power of mindfulness. I accepted reality as it was and did not try to change it.
The middle tips should go into a bit more detail, explain more. Keep them short and to-the-point. E.g., if you're writing a post about how to blog, you can write something like: "Decide how often you want to blog. Be realistic about it. Think you can blog twice a month? Commit to once a month and stick to it."
"I did not attempt to change the moment but accept the situation as it was." – Sharron Frederick, LCSW
Tip #3 - Observe Your World
Be Present by Observing the world around us, by engaging our five senses. We can use our sight as we lay on the ground and watch the clouds go by or look at a piece of art and contemplate its meaning. For our sense of smell when cooking, notice the aroma of the food, or the smell of freshly cut grass. When using our hearing, just stop a listen around you to see what you can hear; notice every sound. Feel free to include personal details and examples. The more relatable you or your website is, the more you connect with your readers.
Tip #4 - Say Each Detail
Actively describe what you see, feel or are currently engaged in. This can be done by journaling your thoughts and feelings as they arise in you; “I am feeling angry today” and describing why. Sitting on a park bench or even at the beach and describing people as they walk by - now who does not like to people watch? We can describe an activity that we are currently engaged in such as making dinner. It would look something like this “I am opening the cupboard to take out the mixing bowl. Next I am taking out the flour and butter, measuring it and kneading the flour and butter together”. Describe what that feels like. It is all about just being in the moment.
Try different blog formats each time. One month, post a day in the life, then try a How-To or a Q&A. There are many templates to help you get started.
Tip #5 - Participate in Life
Another way to be mindful is to participate in life. This means singing out loud while in the shower, dancing to the beat of the music, throwing yourself into what the other person is saying, or exercising and concentrating on what you are doing and what muscles you are using. Think about the last time you actually truly participated in life, being in the moment, giving it your all. Your final tip will lead into your post’s conclusion. For example, “Lastly, knowing just a little bit about SEO can go a long way in helping your blog succeed. You can learn more about SEO in our guide.” Then be sure to add a link to your guide here.
The Best Part of Mindfulness
To me though, the most wonderful thing about mindfulness is that we get to do it all without judgment. No judgment of ourselves and no judgment of others. It just is, the moment is the moment, no more or no less. So each of us needs to work on being a “judgment-free zone”, which in the end will release us from any negative thoughts and feelings about ourselves and others. So my challenge for you today is to stay in the moment for at least a minute with no judgment about yourself, your thoughts or your feelings.