I want you to try something. Read all of this before doing it, of course, otherwise you’ll miss the rest of it! Close your eyes and pay attention to your breathing and only your breathing. Feel as it moves your stomach up as you inhale and down as you exhale. If thoughts come to your mind, acknowledge them, don’t judge yourself, and return your focus back to your breathing. Do this for 5 breaths.
How did that feel? Do you feel more relaxed and calm, or did it make you anxious?
Mindfulness is a fairly new study, but one that many therapists and psychology teachers are using. There are many ways to be more mindful in your life, but first I’ll talk about why it’s become so popular in the psychology field.
We live in a fast paced world. Everything is virtually at our fingertips, and we have come to expect instant gratification. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Technology has brought us good things, such as better health care, the ability to communicate to others all over the world, and entertainment. However, it also has some negative sides to it as well.
As I talked about in the It’s Okay To Feel post, your body is like a machine, and as such needs a tune up sometimes. One of the ways you can take care of it is to do some mindfulness exercises.
I did a study abroad program in Spain last summer, and one of the things I made sure to do while I was there was become aware of my surroundings. I knew that if I wasn’t in the present moment, and only thinking about my future or past, I would miss out on some wonderful things. Especially when we explored the botanical garden, I took my time to observe what I saw, heard, smelled, felt, and even tasted. At one point I didn’t want to leave but my stomach had other ideas :).
Even if you have 5 minutes in your day, use that time to do some mindfulness. There is so much you can do, and you can find it anywhere if you google “being mindful” or “mindful activities.” One of my favorites, though, is to just take a walk and observe everything around you. The important thing to remember is to observe without judgment, but don’t judge your judgment if it comes up. Just acknowledge that thought, and then move your thoughts to the mindful activity.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, just like a lot of things in this blog, it’s not for everyone. Please seek professional help if needed and stop if it causes you distress. Listen to your body.