It’s not easy to be mindful these days. Between the demands of work and family, it can feel as if we’re being pulled in a lot of different directions. How can we help relieve that overstretched feeling and unwind a bit? I believe mindfulness is the key.
What does it mean to be mindful? Basically, it just means being aware of where you are at each moment in time. To be mindful means that wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it consciously and without judgment. Being mindful can help you reduce feelings of anxiety so you can enjoy your life a little more.
So how do we get to this mindful state? It can be as easy as paying attention to your breathing. When we’re busy and rushing around, we often take quick, slow breaths. This can cause us to feel more anxious. To relax and practice mindfulness wherever you are, try taking some deep, slow breaths. Slow down your thinking and notice where you are and what’s around you. Concentrate on each deep, slow breath and feel yourself relaxing.
When you’re trying to be more mindful, it helps to use as many of your senses as you can. Look around you and notice small details. Are there flowers in the trees? Can you see different colors in the room? Make sure to keep up your slow, deep breaths as you take in the sights surrounding you. While you’re breathing in, be aware of all the smells you experience. Don’t analyze what you see or smell; just take it in and be fully present where you are.
Take some time to truly feel your body. You can do a mini-scan of your body, noticing any sensations you experience. Are you sitting on metal bleachers at a child’s soccer practice? On soft cushions at home? Are you feeling a breeze on your face, or the pressure of your feet against the floor? Don’t worry too much about each feeling, just note them and set them aside. Check in with each part of your body from your scalp all the way down to the bottom of your feet. Breathe deeply and slowly and be aware of your body and how it feels.
Listening can be part of mindfulness too. Mindfulness can mean truly listening when others speak to you, instead of rushing your mind ahead to what you’ll say next. Breathe slowly and evenly. Listen and make eye contact. When you truly open yourself to hearing what people are saying, when you’re present in yourself, you’ll find yourself feeling deeper connections to the people around you.
By focusing on yourself, you can become more mindful. Even though you start out by concentrating on yourself and your senses, mindfulness also helps you to pay more attention to other people and how you relate to them. And when you practice mindfulness regularly, you can help yourself to feel more relaxed, more conscious of the world around you.