Everywhere you turn, I bet you keep hearing this trending word – Mindfulness. It pops up everywhere and if you’re not familiar with this concept it can be confusing as to what to do with it. Everyone keeps telling you that you need to be more mindful, or that you need to start practicing mindfulness, but where do you start and what does this mean exactly?
To put it simply, mindfulness is bringing your awareness and thoughts back to the present. Too often we dwell on the past or anticipate the future and this can cause negative emotions to arise. It’s also easy to catch oneself in autopilot throughout the day. For example, we can all relate to driving somewhere and not remembering how we got there. Or maybe you have found yourself scrolling through your phone and all of a sudden an hour has passed by. Mindfulness is a technique that lessens that autopilot and refocuses us on the present moment. Mindfulness gives us permission to notice our mind wandering, non-judgmentally acknowledge this, and refocus on the senses around us.
We can start practicing mindfulness in our every day tasks. That’s right, you don’t have to carve out another 15 minutes of time you already feel you don’t have! Let’s take the car example. Typically we get in our car, listen to our music or podcast of choice, and navigate the streets of Minnesota rushing to our destination as quickly or efficiently as possible. Usually our blood pressure rises with one wrong move from another driver, ruining the rest of the car ride. Most often we are thinking of our to-do list, anticipating meetings, or planning for the weekend. Let’s instead practice some mindfulness techniques. Begin by bringing your mind to the present moment and accepting that while your mind and thoughts may wander – that’s ok! – continue to bring it back to the here and now. Maybe you start to notice how the steering wheel feels around your hands – you might be gripping it tightly because of tension, or maybe using only one hand without even noticing you did so. How does the wheel feel in your hands – is it cold, or maybe hot? Maybe your palms are sweating, or maybe you start noticing your rings on your fingers as a barrier between the wheel. Maybe you start gently feeling the stitching in the wheel and notice how that feels. What other senses can you identify during your car ride? Perhaps it’s something pleasant or maybe even boring; however, your openness to your own curiosity is the first step in implementing mindfulness into your life. When the car ride ends and you arrive at your destination, take a moment to acknowledge your growth and even your breath. Making these small changes and implementing mindfulness techniques is a reason to show yourself some gratitude!
Written by Kelly Ciapetta, MS, LPCC
Photo credit: pexels.com