By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
Mindfulness is living in each moment as it comes. It means acknowledging all thoughts that enter your brain, without stopping to ponder anything. When you are mindful, you become appreciative of each moment and grateful for the little things in life, like a beautiful sunset or a helpful neighbor.
Mindfulness is actually a simple concept, but becoming mindful can be difficult, because it often contrasts with our usual state of being. Most of us are used to worrying about problems for days at a time, stressing over things in life that can’t be changed, or burdening ourselves with commitments, activities, and engagements. Learning mindfulness can allow us to acknowledge and accept all life experiences, whether they are positive or negative.
The first step to becoming mindful is to make the commitment to one’s self to honor the present moment. Practice mindfulness as you go about your day. Instead of worrying about work deadlines, when you get home in the evening, vow to put those worries on a shelf until you re-enter the office. Play with your kids without thinking about all the household chores that need to get done. Allow your entire self to be in each moment entirely.
In order to improve your ability to become mindful on a regular basis, it helps to practice it with meditation. Begin by finding a comfortable spot to sit or lie. Eliminate all distractions as much as possible by shutting off the television, radio, and computer, and finding a quiet spot to be alone. You can set a calm mood by dimming the lights, playing quiet, relaxing music, or lighting a few candles.
Focus your gaze softly in front of you, or gently close your eyes. As you sit, simply let yourself be. Do not try to eliminate all thoughts from your brain, as that will most likely cause an avalanche of thoughts and ideas to come crashing down. Acknowledge every thought that passes through your brain, by sitting with it for a moment, and releasing it.
Concentrate on your breath to bring yourself back into your body and the present moment. Notice how your belly and chest rise and fall with each inhale and exhale. Try to inhale deeper and exhale slower. Give each body part some special attention by moving up the body, part-by-part, and acknowledging how it feels. Breathe into any spots that feel tight or stressed. Visualize the stress leaving your body with each breath. Try to sit quietly for 10 or 15 minutes at first, extending it as you gain confidence and experience in meditation.
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