This week I attended a mindfulness workshop. It was only an hour long so we just scratched the surface. I am a mom of two, have two dogs, and work full time so I jump on any chance to reduce the chaos in my life.
I frequently ask myself “how did I get here?”. I love my life but at times find myself in such an overwhelming daze that I am missing out on the important things. I think I have done enough if I unplug for an hour every night to focus on my children. This is so not enough. Not only is it not fair to them, it is not fair to me. My mind is still racing during this hour. My husband will tell me about his day and midway through I begin to panic that he will notice that I haven’t been paying attention. We don’t have much time together so it comes across as if I don’t care, but I do! I just took an opportunity to drift off and go through some of the items on my checklist. This does not help at all; I am not getting any of the things done and rotating through the long list in my head only increases my anxiety.
What does mindfulness mean to me? Being aware of my body and mind in every moment, and taking the time to listen to myself, and others. I know that I need to slow down and be present. I have watched technology take over and find myself getting lost on FB and Instagram. I am constantly getting pulled into the past and future instead of living in the present. There is too much that I adore in my day to day present life to go on like this. Accepting is the first part and now I must act.
A mindful mind is a productive mind. If you can slow down and focus on the priorities for your day you will find yourself accomplishing more and with less stress. Stay in the moment and focus on one thing at a time. You will find yourself feeling happier when you stay in the present and enjoy the special moments, whether snuggling your dog or having a conversation with a friend.
During the class raisins were passed out. We were asked to do the following with one raisin – describe how it feels to the touch, describe how it smells, touch it to your lips and describe how it feels, put it in your mouth and see how it tastes without chewing, and finally chew it 20 times and pay attention to how it tastes and feels in your mouth. I happen to be a slow eater and have been laughed at because I enjoy eating so much. I will ooh and aww over my meal. If we take the time to observe the little things we will find more joy in them.
Here are a few tips to start your journey of mindfulness:
1. What does a mindful mind mean to you and how do you succeed at it? I find that although there are basic methods it is all dependent on what works best for you. If you feel most relaxed and at peace when taking a bath, then you should put time aside every day to take a bath. For others, it may be running or knitting. Define what works for you. The important part is taking the time to do it on a regular basis.
2. Find time to breathe – if you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed take 3 full breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth. If you want to go deeper keep going for 5 minutes and pay attention to your breath. If your mind wanders that is fine, simply remind it to come back to your breath.
3. Focus on your top 5 goals/items on your checklist for the week or even year – don’t let the little things bog you down; think big and stay focused on the important things that will improve your life. You will find that you feel more accomplished at the end of the day.
4. Meditation will improve your mindful mind. If you can master meditating every day, even if only for 5 minutes, you will find that you are more relaxed and have a clearer mind.
5. Take time to spend with nature. I have benefited from 30 minute walks by the water. I feel happier and invigorated throughout the day. Pay attention to your breath and let your mind be still.