Friday, April 1, 2016

Mindfulness for Dummies

What if life could be happier and more fulfilling with one simple technique? Perhaps you’re not flexible enough for Yoga.  Perhaps you can’t sit still long enough to meditate.  And maybe, for whatever reason, you’re not into formal religion.

Or maybe you’re into one or all those things. 

Either way, one change in your behavior can improve life for you – Mindfulness.

Mindfulness is being in the moment.  It’s like taking a quick video of what’s happening at that minute.  But you are not using your smart-phone – you are using your mind.  Let’s look at some examples:

You’re angry.  Someone just cut you in line, and you’re in a hurry.  Before you act – stop yourself.  Take note of what’s happening.  Are your hands clenching?  Is your heart beating faster?  Is your breath getting short?  Stop. Take a few deep breaths.  Consciously, relax your muscles.  And think about whether to act on your anger.  Is it worth it?  Could you get in a fight?  Are you elevating your blood pressure for something that really doesn’t matter?  Maybe it’s better to just let it go.

Now maybe, it’s a bigger issue.  Your spouse has just said something nasty to you.  And you take note of all those angry symptoms.  You de-escalate what is going on in your body.  And you are able to calm your spouse and have a reasonable conversation.  You save yourself from all kinds of negative physical symptoms, and you keep from having an argument that could have significant negative effects on your relationship.

You’re happy.  You are sitting on a park bench.  Your child is playing nicely with a friend.  The sky is clear, and there is a lovely breeze.  You’re drinking a good cup of coffee and enjoying a real conversation with your friend, the mother of the other child.  Freeze it in your mind.  Take in all the pleasant things that are going on in the moment and truly acknowledge it.  How often do we take these nice moments for granted and let the aggravating little moments eat at us?  If you allow yourself to enjoy the positive moments, the negative moments won’t have as much of an impact.

Think of a wedding, a great party or a night out with your buddies.  How often you stop and really take it all in?  Use all your senses and lock those moments into your memory as they are happening!!!


You’re sad.  Yep.  Even when you’re sad, this is a good practice.  Feel your tears.  Think clearly about what is making you sad, before you try to cure it or make it better.  Allow yourself to be sad in the moment, but be aware, if you are not able to lift that sadness after a time you feel is reasonable.  Again, it is being aware of the physical effects of an emotion, so you can deal with them, not allow them to overtake you. 

Mindfulness is particularly helpful, when you are grieving.  It is okay to feel the grief – to allow yourself to cry and remember and mourn.  Many of us try to brush those feelings away, but it is important to allow ourselves to honor our lost loved one.  If you don’t grieve, when a loss occurs, you will carry the negative parts with you for a very long time.

Hold on a second!  This all sounds so simple.  I know.  It’s not.  It takes practice.  It takes turning on your brain at times when it is often off!  But it’s worth it. And it gets easier – and oh so worth it.