Creating a mindfulness practice that sticks
Last updated 1/20/2021 at 9:29am
Paying attention on purpose sums up what mindfulness means. We take our everyday activities, and we pay attention to them in a way that keeps us aware of that exact moment. We become present in our lives, and we become more aware of our external environments and our internal selves.
Have you ever driven somewhere and when you reached the destination, you realize that you don't remember details about how you got there? What if the next time you drive, you pay attention on purpose to how the steering wheel feels in your hand, how the temperature feels on the inside of your car or how the sound of the air hits the outside of the car? How about the sensation of the floor under your feet? What smells are in the car with you?
What if you became disciplined about paying better attention to all that is happening around you?
When we pay attention on purpose to the mundane or very routine activities that we do, it allows us to respond to life rather than react to it with past emotions. It also allows us to pay attention internally and be completely in the present moment accepting situations exactly how they are at that exact moment.
So, when someone abruptly pulls out in front of you, while you hopefully respond on the road in a safe and reflexive manner that is in accord with the rules of the road, internally any number of responses can possibly rise to the surface. Typically, such stressful stimuli provoke negative moods and anxious reactions, which over time can simply wear us down.
While a person who is practicing mindfulness cannot stop people from pulling out in front of them, a person practicing mindfulness may observe the moods and reactions that are stirred up and respond differently and without stirring up the nervous system.
While any sort of emotions, moods, memories, or reactions may arise, through mindfulness you can put yourself in a position where the mind has been trained to protect the body from such stressors. That's right! Many studies show that when practicing mindfulness, the brain begins to change physiologically and protects you from the negative effects that stress can cause; anxiety, high blood pressure, weight gain, etc.
The brain is complex and is always looking for tasks. Our minds can easily get stuck with thoughts and regrets of the past or worries and fears of the future; neither places exist. The present is the only time in which we truly experience anything at all. Mindfulness is the practice that enables us to more fully experience, appreciate and understand ourselves so we can be fully present for life.
How do you make this a part of your life? How do you begin a mindfulness practice that sticks?
You do not need to go all-or-nothing with your mindfulness practice. It's a practice. Just taking a couple of minutes out of your day can make a great difference. Here are some examples:
When washing your hands, feel the temperature of the water on your skin. Notice the scent of the soap and hear the splashing of the water.
Throughout the day when you eat or drink, take your first bite or sip very slowly. Notice the textures, chew for a long time or let your first sip of coffee or tea roll around your tongue before swallowing.
Also, you can observe and take note of the sensation of the breath as it comes in and out of the nose or your mouth.
Committing to a mindfulness practice like this doesn't need to take up time in your day; in fact, eventually you'll notice that it actually adds time to your day and helps you enjoy your life the way you deserve to.
Yours in Service,
Jennifer Zenner Clark
Owner & Director of Education at ZENner mobile yoga
107 E. Ohio Ave., Fountain, CO 80817