Mindfulness is one of the fastest growing areas in psychology research. It's been empirically shown to improve feelings of happiness, reduce depression, reduce stress, improve relationship satisfaction, decrease rumination ( spinning thoughts), decrease emotional reactivity, improve focus and memory. It's even been shown to help with chronic pain and to improve immune system function. Research shows that therapists who practice mindfulness have improved compassion, empathy and counseling skills (Didona, 2009 and Baer 2006).
So why isn't everyone on the planet doing daily mindfulness practice?
Perhaps it's because we're so busy that the idea of finding 30 min to an hour to sit down and be mindful sounds like an impossibility. That's the wonderful thing about mindfulness though - you can do it anywhere, anytime, for any amount of time. Even a few seconds of mindfulness will help settle your system and improve your day. It's actually better to practice consistently for short periods of time then to practice every now and then for longer periods of time.
Here are a couple of suggestions to help you incorporate a mindfulness moment into your life.
- Stop and listen. Just listen, to whatever is around you. Do you hear birds, cars, an air conditioner? Just listen without judgment.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose, and out through your nose. Pause at the top and the bottom of the breath. Repeat 3 times.
- Please one hand on your heart and the other hand on your belly. Take several relaxed, even breaths.
- Look at a beautiful picture, or a pattern. Notice what colors are there, how the pattern moves.
- Make a cup of tea. Take your time preparing the water, smelling the dry tea, noticing the colors as you place the tea in the water, sensing the temperature of the cup, and finally sipping the tea, Bring in all of your senses.
- Apply lotion to your hands. Breathe in the scent. Notice the sensation of the lotion on skin.
- Walk mindfully across the room. Take small, very slow steps, noticing the pressure on your foot as it passes from heel to toe, from foot to foot.
- Peel and eat an orange. Notice the scent of the orange peel as the oils are released. Notice the tanginess and the sweetness.
- Turn off the radio when you're driving and just drive. Notice the feel of the wheel in your hands, the color of the sky, the cars around you, the sounds you hear.
- Stand on one foot and pay attention to your balance. Where is your center of gravity? How is your weight distributed? Which foot is easier to stand on?
Get creative. You can do anything mindfully. Just give yourself a moment and pay attention, without judgment, to the present moment.
- Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh
- The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh
- Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn
- Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach
- When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron