Welcome to week one of the mindfulness series. Today, I am providing a mindfulness technique overview. I will be explaining the concept of mindfulness and how to utilize it to help keep your mind present and not stressing over past or future concerns. If you have missed any part of the series, click here to catch up! As always, remember my disclaimer before practicing any mental health information.
The key to mindfulness is noticing your surroundings, mood, thoughts, and senses without judging them. When practicing, the purpose is to be in the moment and take it all in without overthinking. In one of the Star Trek Next Generation movies, one of the characters teaches Picard how to stretch a moment in time. To me, this evokes a visual representation of mindfulness. At that moment, Picard was questioning how it was happening. He was told not to question it. She wanted him to experience it. This is the same thing we do with mindfulness. We observe for the sake of noticing the moment we are in and appreciating the moment.
Mindfulness Has Six Steps
Awareness consists of taking in all around you and within you. That is the crux of it. Noticing all the little thoughts which go through our minds, the emotions we experience, the noises we tune out, and so on.
Now that you are aware, it’s time to practice acceptance.
Acceptance revolves around allowing yourself to acknowledge what is going on around you and within you without any judgment. If you are feeling upset or angry, acknowledge those feelings to yourself, and move forward. This is not the time to figure out why you are in a particular state. You accept it for what it is and move on.
Another way to practice mindfulness is through meditation.
Get comfortable, close your eyes, and bring your attention to your breathing. Notice the air filling your lungs. Then notice the air leaving your lungs as you exhale. If your mind starts to wander, take notice of the thoughts and move your attention back to your breathing.
Often we take walks to clear our mind or blow off some steam. The next time you take a walk, incorporate mindfulness by taking paying attention to your body. Notice how your clothes shift around your body and how your feet hit the pavement. Once you have done that, move to notice your surroundings. Can you see cars going by? Can you hear children playing? Do you smell grass? Can you feel the breeze through your hair? Use your senses to notice the surroundings.
A body scan is another method. A body scan is similar to meditation, as we pay attention to our bodies. However, this time we are paying attention to the entire body. We start at our feet and move up to the crown of our head. For each section, feet, calves, thighs, groin, stomach, chest, back, shoulder, arms, hands, neck, and face, take 15 seconds to 1 minute to observe.
We have covered the body; let’s move through the five senses. From five to one, take a mental note of things you see, feel, hear, smell, and taste. The order doesn’t matter. Just pick one sense and notice five things with that sense and move through the senses until the noticings one thing with the last sense.
Feel free to download this graphic to keep with you to remind you of these six steps to practice mindfulness overview. Next week we will dive a little deeper into the topic.
See you then!