It is easy to live on autopilot, moving from one task to another on our to-do lists until our head hits the pillow at night. Each day can blur together and maybe some of us live in anticipation for the weekend, where we just might get to spend our time the way we choose. Living in a fast-paced society means we are constantly on the go and it can be difficult to stay present and engaged in the world around us. One practice that can help with this is mindfulness. It can teach us to slow down and notice each experience, engaging in the moment with curiosity. In simple terms, practicing mindfulness basically means learning to pay attention. We can practice mindfulness throughout the day from our commute to work, interactions with our kids, and eating meals. It can help us not only to stay present, but also to practice non-judgmental thinking towards ourselves, others, and the world around us. Furthermore, research shows that by practicing mindfulness consistently, depression and anxiety symptoms may lessen.
There are plenty of mindfulness videos, resources, and worksheets on the internet that can be helpful when developing a consistent practice. It may be useful to keep a journal during this time to help keep track of your thoughts as you deepen your experience with this practice.
A simple mindfulness practice may look like:
1) Increasing awareness of your body. What aches? What feels heavy? Take deep breaths. Visualize the air entering your lungs, filling up your belly, and focus on the way the breath feels as it leaves your body.
2) Practice mindful eating. Notice the ingredients you choose for each meal you prepare. Notice how the food looks, tastes, and smells. Notice how it feels when it enters your body. Take slow, meaningful bites. Express gratitude.
3) Explore your mind. Get in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Allow your mind to drift to where it may and imagine your mind is the sky and your thoughts are clouds. Watch the clouds move across the sky and then disappear. Our thoughts are the same. Practicing mindfulness can help minimize anxiety-ridden and intrusive thoughts as we learn to let them go.
4) Go for a drive. Sometimes when we take the same route each day, we tend to stay on autopilot and the things around us get taken for granted. Try paying attention on the drive, noticing the objects that you pass by. You may be surprised at how much you never knew existed on that route! A donut shop, a beautiful field of flowers, a mural. Like a child exploring the world, take in all the information and allow yourself to stay curious.
Mindfulness is a wonderful relaxation technique and there are many benefits from engaging in a consistent practice. If you are curious about how mindfulness can be a part of your therapeutic journey, please reach out to us at 253 Therapy and Consult to discuss with one of our many providers!