Some believe that meditation or mindfulness practices involve going into a deep trance or being able to completely shut out our stress and the world around us. However, this is the opposite of what mindfulness is all about! It is not a special state you need to reach or specific way to feel. Mindfulness is all about paying attention to what is happening right now and just letting yourself feel what you feel. All you need to do is stop, breathe, and concentrate.
You can try mindfulness simply by taking a few minutes (or even a few seconds) to stop whatever it is you are doing and watch what is happening around you. Take this time to notice the air moving in and out of your body as you breathe, and notice the environment around you. Use your senses to try and focus on something that you normally overlook, like the smell of the room you are in or the hum of a fan in the background. That’s all it takes!
Stress is a part of everyone’s life. When we feel stressed or worried, our first reaction may be to shut these feelings down or to let them completely overwhelm us. Instead of closing off or falling into our feelings, try just experiencing them. When you notice yourself beginning to worry, take a moment to practice mindfulness. Acknowledge that you are feeling stressed and use your senses to investigate what that stress feels like in your body. By looking at stress as a set of sensations we feel, instead of something overwhelming that should be locked away, we can learn to let this stress become a part of the background.
Resources: Consider using free mindfulness apps, such as InsightTimer and Headspace. These apps offer free guided meditations, that can be used anywhere and anytime. For a more in depth look at mindfulness, check out the following books: Full Catastrophe Living and Wherever you go there you are by Jon Kabat-Zinn; Calming your anxious Mind: How mindfulness and compassion can free you from anxiety by Jeff Brantley.
Avery Ducey, MS