There is a cycle to mindfulness:
Awareness of our thoughts and feelings at the current moment,
Thoughts will wander or become distracted through outside distractions,
Realizing our thoughts have wandered,
Bringing our focus back to the thought, feeling, and activity of the moment
Why does the cycle of mindfulness matter?
I believe the most important part of learning mindfulness is to understand that the job of the mind is to think. It is not designed to stay still, so our thoughts will wander. Our goal is to know when our mind is wandering and develop the discipline to bring our thoughts and feelings (awareness) back to the moment that we are currently experiencing.
Why do I want to practice mindfulness?
Does this sound like another think to add to your to-do list? Like any new skill it does take some time and dedication to develop. However, once you develop this skill it actually lessons your to-do list.
When you begin to live mindfully, you are more aware of your thoughts and feelings. This may sound as thought it will make life more complicated, but it makes things easier. When you know what you are feeling. When you understand how a situation or relationship is making you feel that awareness opens options for you. You now have the option to change how you act or react to a situation. You have the option to set boundaries. You have the option to change the direction your life is going.
Having awareness and options doesn’t mean that things will magically change overnight. What it does mean is that you have the knowledge to know what in your life is aligning you with joy, gratitude, and abundance and what is dragging your down, depleting you, and making you feel like life is being sucked out of you.
Most of us spend the bulk of our time working on our survival needs, which for most means making money. As such, for many individuals their work is either something they are deeply passionate about or they feel as though it is sucking the life out of them. If you feel passionate about your work, great! Continue with that but be sure to set time aside to avoid burnout.
If you feel work is sucking the life out of you or a necessary evil to pay the bills that is a huge message to yourself. Changing jobs is not always easy or convenient but there is always something we can do to begin to alleviate negative emotions until the larger change can happen.
When I worked in the finance industry, one of my roles was quality assurance of paperwork for the sales department of medical equipment. Month end in finance is always stressful as documentation and accounting have deadlines. Quality assurance means that you make sure all the legal requirements are being met; which meant long hours and a lot of people double checking your work. This also meant I had to make copies of things for each file.
That time at the copy machine is when I did a mindfulness exercise. I made sure that my focus was completely on putting the papers in the machine, pressing the buttons, watching the papers come out, separating the copies from the originals and returning to my desk. Boring yes, but those small moments gave me the break from all the commotion around me, constant interruptions, and demands of the job.
Those little mindfulness breaks kept me from only focusing on the stress of the day and allowed me to not become one giant ball of stress. Which made it easier for me to keep my actions and reactions more in alignment with the logic needed at work, rather than the emotions brought on by stress.
Awareness through the senses: Use your senses of Touch, Taste, Sight, Sound, and Smell to immerse yourself in the moment.
Live in the moment: Be truly open and accepting of what is happening in the current moment without expectation or judgement. This opens you to simple joy and gratitude.
Accept yourself: Do you give yourself the same loving kindness and compassion that you would give a friend or loved one?
Breathe Focus: Overwhelmed with emotions? Negativity or Anger getting the best of you? Exhausted? Stressed? Focus on the cycle of breathing for 10 breathes and see the change in your body, mind, and spirit. What is the cycle of breathing? Inhale deeply through the nose. Feel air travel into your nose, your lungs and diaphragm expand, pause and exhale feeling the slow release of air. Repeat.
Body Scan Meditation. Lie on your back, arms at your sides with the palms of your hands facing the sky. Focus your attention on each part of your body beginning with either the head or the toes. This is an awareness exercise to see how each part of your body feels; what messages it has to share. No judgements just connecting and listening.
Movement meditation. This can be done with any repetitive task (crochet, dishes, vacuum, folding towels, etc) Focus on the task at hand, when your mind wanders bring it back to the task at hand. This is perfect for practicing focusing on the moment. It also is helpful when feeling overwhelmed with emotions.
Sitting meditation. This can be done in a chair or on the floor. Be comfortable and your back straight but relaxed. Hands can be in your lap or on your thighs or knees. Palms up or down. Begin with breathe meditation. There are also guided meditations.
Walking meditation. Focus on the act of walking and connecting with the ground beneath you.
May mindfulness and loving-kindness guide your way,