We’ve all heard of mindfulness. It’s a practice that’s has recently gained a lot of mainstream popularity and has been used in a number of different applications, from professional sports and healthcare to corporate wellness and stress reduction. It seems like so many people have gotten into it lately, but how do we make the leap ourselves? If we don’t have time to join a group, follow an 8-week program, or commit big chunks of time to sitting meditation, does that mean we can’t access the benefits of mindfulness?
The good news is that mindfulness can be available to us in more ways than formal practice and instructed programs. Mindfulness is simply described as a practice of paying attention to the present moment without judgment – and what better moment to begin practicing than now?
Let’s take a second to explore the mini possibilities for mindfulness that are available to us all the time. For example, take 10 seconds right now:
Become aware of your body.
Become aware of your surroundings.
Tune in to your emotional tone right now.
The possibilities for mindfulness practice are as infinite as our own creativity and just as accessible if we give it a try. Build your own little way of checking in with your present moment and you will be more likely to return to it than if you adopt a generic mindful mantra. For example, I have a practice of becoming aware of the ceiling/sky/heavens above me as part of my mindfulness moment. I do this several times a day by just noting simple things like, “Oh, look at the ceiling of the subway. I’ve never noticed that” or “The sky is very layered today.”
To develop your own mini mindful habit, think of what you would like to check in with. You can begin a practice of checking in with:
All the green things in the room,
The way the shadows look,
The sounds of the room or landscape.
These are all examples of little ways we can check in with ourselves at any given moment of the day. No matter how busy we are, we can re-frame just a second of our day to say, “Hey body, what’s going on with you? Hello surroundings, I notice you. And emotions, how about you?”
Remember that mindfulness encourages us to learn non-judgemental observation so whatever it is you choose to check in with, just notice it as it is. If you find yourself judging or evaluating it (eg. “the sky is grey today…. yuck I wish it were sunny”) notice your tendency to jump to judgment and remember that that’s okay. It takes time to learn non-judgmental observation – that is why it is called a practice.
It takes 10 seconds of our day to make an impact on our ability to pay attention. Be gentle with yourself and make a fun practice of noticing something new a few times a day. See how it makes a difference in your life.
Tell me your fun little mini practices! What are you being aware of? Comment below!
Lachlan is a student of natural medicine at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine and a prospective student of contemplative psychotherapy at the Institute for Traditional Medicine in Toronto. She combines her learning from both alternative medicine and buddhist-influenced psychotherapy to develop a new way to address mental health concerns in a truly holistic way- with mind, body and spirit. Her professional interest blossomed out of her own struggles with depression and anxiety, helped greatly by her practices in meditation and ecstatic dance. Lachlan is a spirit, a writer and a traveler who loves the smell of Nag Champa.
For more info on Naturopathic Medicine and Contemplative Psychotherapy, see
Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine http://www.ccnm.edu/
Institute for Traditional Medicine http://itmworld.org/?page_id=275