Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of the present moment. Even though it has roots in Buddhist meditation, mindfulness has become an increasingly popular secular practice for people looking to relieve stress.
All of us juggle a variety of responsibilities from day to day, which when coupled with unexpected challenges that arise, can put more strain and stress on our already busy lives. That’s why taking time to clear your mind, and restore your focus is important for staying calm, creative and effective.
There are many ways to take a mindfulness break. Here are some tips from Turning Point CEO Ann Fisher Raney:
Remember that anyone can do this. Mindfulness is an ordinary practice. It doesn’t require anything special. Just begin and be gentle. Don’t judge yourself.
How I practice
I spent a long time thinking that I was “failing” at mindfulness. My mind would wander, I’d feel twitchy, and most of all, I’d fall into the habit of criticizing myself. Now, my practice centers on paying attention to my breath, so whenever I get “lost” in thought, I just lightly remind myself to go back to my breath. It’s like giving a loving nudge to a toddler, or redirecting a curious puppy. No problem. Remember your breath? Head back over there. This occurs again and again and this, for me, is mindfulness practice.
Here are for more suggestions from other experts for incorporating a mindfulness practice into your daily routine:
- Eat with awareness. Don’t multi-task over meals. Save the To Do List and email checking until after breakfast. The Center for Mindful Eating suggests using “all your senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body, acknowledging your responses to food (likes, dislikes or neutral) without judgment, and becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to begin and end eating you can change your relationship to food.” URL link: http://www.thecenterformindfuleating.org/IntroMindfulEating/
- Stretch, move and get the kinks out. Do you find your concentration flagging by mid-afternoon? Instead of grabbing a cup of coffee or a treat, try stepping away from your desk to take a short walk. Walking not only clears your mind, it can boost your mood and energy level. The key is to become present to the experience of walking rather than focusing on your thoughts or checking phone messages. Try this guided 5 minute walking meditation by Sonia Jones to get you started. https://youtu.be/tUWMrKZ9VSU?list=PLTpLIV4awkdPSW4LTL6w2mEF8XijhhQFM
- Do something new. When feeling overwhelmed at work – instead of routinely putting your head down to work faster, which can lead to feelings of chronic overwork or burnout, try a new approach. Notice what kinds of challenges excite you, and be intentional about learning a new skill or taking on a new project at work. Research shows that happiness and learning are tied closely together. For more info on the connection between learning and happiness read “The Power of Pause” by Forbes contributor Kristi Hedges. http://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2014/10/14/the-power-of-pause/
- Go with the flow. Rushing through your To Do list and multitasking may seem productive – but it doesn’t help to accomplish important and long-lasting goals. Try focusing on one task only. The act of losing oneself entirely in an activity is called “flow.” Happiness is found in these moments of pure engagement. Read more about how to find your flow here: http://zenhabits.net/guide-to-achieving-flow-and-happiness-in-your-work/.
Consider taking a mindfulness break a few times each day. Like stepping stones over a swiftly moving river, they can provide a solid resting place to ease your journey through the day, and may even help you enjoy the scenery along the way!
For more thoughts on mindfulness, reducing stress and other mental health tips, Like our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TurningPointBHCC