Mindfulness is not about getting anywhere else - Jon Kabat Zinn
By this time I am sure that most of you have heard the term Mindfulness. It has been wonderful to watch something I love and have believed in for so long, grow in popularity.
Today I merely want to introduce Mindfulness with a simple exercise. This exercise is one that can be done anytime, anywhere (are you starting to see a pattern with my favorite self care tools? They are simple and can be done anywhere, at any time). This Mindfulness exercise will assist you in finding relief from emotions like anxiety and depression, and bring more fulfillment to your present moment.
Our minds are constantly running, and most of the time we are on autopilot. Our thinking usually jumps from somewhere in the past to somewhere in the future, rarely staying in the present moment. This is not a statement of judgment, merely how our minds function on a second-to-second basis. When our mind moves from past to future, future to past, and does not remain in the present, emotions arise creating havoc on the mind, body, and spirit. Emotions from the past usually focus on sadness, depression, regret, guilt, and shame, and the emotions of the future generally consist of anxiety and fear. The first step in Mindfulness is to observe the workings of your mind, to become aware of where it goes throughout the day. Looking within can be intimidating and as you try this exercise, it is crucial that you do not judge yourself. As you become sensitive to your mind's patterns, you can begin to work on bringing it into the present moment, where you are able to be released from the emotional states of the past and future.
Simple Mindfulness Exercise:
- Observe your mind…watch its wandering…without judgment
- Do this throughout your day Become familiar with your mind's patterns, and where it goes - past to future, future to past...without judgment
- Here is what you can do when you recognize that your mind has taken you out of the present moment:
- Take a deep breath in (use the Breathing technique we have discussed previously)
- Exhale out and bring yourself into the present moment
- Use your senses (see, hear, taste, smell, and touch) to anchor you…all without judgment
Your mind will wander again… returning to past memories or future fears, and that is ok. The only way to make changes and relinquish these patterns is to be gentle with oneself and not judge this process. Simply take a deep breath in and out…(or two, or three)…and begin again. Releasing sadness, fear, anxiety, guilt, shame, and so on…can be freeing to the soul. Who doesn't want that?
Try this exercise at any time during your day and see what enfolds…