The hard part of mindfulness is to “do” it consistently. Studies show unequivocally that the more you practice mindfulness,
the more it becomes a part of your life and makes an impact on
you. Mindfulness can reduce your feelings of stress, increase your
feelings of well-being, and improve your ability to focus on the
present and reduce anxiety and worry as well.
THE STEPS TO LEARNING MINDFULNESS
Learning mindfulness is actually quite easy and quick. There
are a variety of exercises to help train the mind to be present.
Some of the exercises are quite long, while others are short. They
include breathing exercises, body scan, walking meditation, eating
meditation, loving kindness meditation, silent meditation, and
more. I will begin with two short mindfulness exercises that focus
Minute of Mindfulness: Who can’t find one or two minutes a day
to practice? I hope you agree. Let’s get started. In these exercises,
variably called core exercises, focusing on the breath, you need to sit
comfortably on a chair or on the floor with your spine erect. Close
your eyes, if you are comfortable with that. If you prefer to keep
your eyes open, you may do so, but focus downward on a spot.
Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you
focus on your breath, you will notice a deepening and slowing of
the breath. If thoughts come (and they will!), notice the thought,
let it go, and return to your focus to the breath. Take four or five
breaths in this fashion. Open your eyes. Congratulations! You have
completed your first mindfulness exercise. It should have taken you
no more than 60 seconds! How do you feel?
Three-Stage Breathing: An alternative exercise that will take you
two or three minutes incorporates paying attention to bodily
sensations and consists of three stages. Again, sit comfortably in a
chair or on the floor with your spine erect. If you are comfortable
doing so, close your eyes.
• First, focus on your senses. What do you hear? What do you
feel? What do you notice about your body? What do you
notice about your feelings?
• Second, focus on your breath coming into your abdomen and
going out slowly for about three or four deep, slow breaths.
• Third, return to your bodily sensations. Scan your body, your
sensations, and your feelings. That is it!
If you prefer to have somebody guide you through this practice,
you can find many mindfulness meditations online.
The key to becoming a more mindful person is practice. No
amount of talking or reading about mindfulness can take the
place of regular practice. Deciding that this is something you
want to do and then making the time for it are wonderful first
steps to becoming a more mindful person.
What are the benefits of practicing mindfulness? Many people
report feeling less stressed, worrying less, becoming more aware of
what is going on around them, and communicating better with
loved ones. While there are several levels of practice and exercises
that are more intricate and take more time, the core practice is
focusing on the breath, becoming aware of bodily sensations, and
accepting in a nonjudgmental manner what is.
FOCUS ON WHAT IS
With all the hoopla surrounding the mindfulness revolution,
we can easily lose sight of the fact that it is not the outer
trappings of mindfulness that are important. You don’t need a
special cushion, a special place, or even a special time or teacher
to practice mindfulness. All you need is the intention to practice
and then to follow through on that intention with a minute or
two several times during the day. Remember: Mindfulness is
paying attention to what is, without judging, changing, or fixing.
Give it a try! You won’t be sorry.
Naomi L. Baum, Ph.D., is a psychologist who internationally consults in the field
of trauma and resilience. She is the former director of the Resilience Unit at the
Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma, where she created the Building
Resilience Intervention (BRI), a program she has implemented extensively in both
Israel and internationally in post-disaster and post-trauma environments. Baum
directs the International Summer Course-Trauma and Resilience from the Israeli
Perspective, a course offered in conjunction with the Hebrew University. She is
the author of two books, Life Unexpected: A Trauma Psychologist Journeys through
Breast Cancer, and Free Yourself from Fear: A Seven Day Plan for Overcoming Fear
of (Recurrent) Cancer. Baum’s Web site is www.naomibaum.com.
Mindfulness is paying attention to
what is, without judging, changing,
or fixing. (Photo by Pixabay.)