By Ally Nelson
Are you ready to stop overwhelming emotions from taking over your whole day? I’ve got a skill for you! It’s called Mindfulness.
A lot of times when people hear the term mindfulness they think of intense yogis or meditation for hours on end. But it's much more simple and something available to even the least flexible people ;) Let's talk about what mindfulness really is.
What is Mindfulness?
Jon Kabbat-Zinn (The creator of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program in the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine) defines mindfulness as “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally”.
There are 3 key components to this definition: paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. Let’s look at each piece a little bit closer!
Paying Attention on Purpose:
What does this even mean? When we are attempting to practice mindfulness the first step is to begin to pay attention. Notice your surroundings. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? What do you feel? What do you taste?
We want to actively be engaged in noticing. See a spill on the floor? Just notice. Feeling anxious? Just notice. Smell a candle? Just notice.
Noticing your environment helps you get out of your head and come back to the present moment.
Staying in The Present Moment:
Anxiety, depression, and other big emotions often live in the past or in the future… we get stuck thinking about everything we’ve ever done, or everything we need to get done! In the past and future we have no control, which also adds to the stress we’re experiencing.
When we live in the present moment we remove added stresses and increase feelings of calm. We feel more in control of our lives and capable of handling anything that comes up.
Ultimately the next 30 seconds is the only time that truly exists. So shift the focus to that rather than getting stuck in the past or jumping forward into the future.
Mindfulness cannot be practiced effectively without the ever important non-judgmental aspect.
If I notice there’s a spill on the floor but then start judging myself for it, I’m not in the present moment anymore!
Example: “Oh, there’s a stain on the floor. Why am I such a slob? How am I going to get that out? Should I just buy a new rug? Where am I going to get money for that?”
Do you see how quickly we jumped to different time zones? Let’s try it again without judgment.
Example: “Oh, there’s a stain on the floor. That’s interesting.”
It stops there. I don’t have to feel stressed, and if we have energy we can take care of it! Otherwise we don’t have to let that stain ruin our whole day.
The more we can remove judgment, the more effective mindfulness can be as a skill to help you feel calm and safe.
Mindfulness is a great regulation technique to help you stay in the present moment and decrease the intensity of big emotions.
The more you practice it, the easier it becomes! Check out a few resources here to increase your mindfulness skills!
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