Mindfulness: Living in the Here and Now

Last week I talked about anger and becoming more aware of underlying emotions. I would like to continue along this conversation of being mindful as I think being in touch with your true emotions and fully experiencing them can ultimately reduce a lot of stress and negativity. Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism but has been adapted to fit many different disciplines. In psychology there is no set definition for mindfulness but is often used to refer to a state of mind. I like to think of mindfulness of being fully present in the moment and aware of our thoughts, feelings, and bodily experiences. Mindfulness is not about being judgmental or trying to change what we are experiencing, but simply letting the experience happen.
Mindfulness is often connected with meditation. Now, to many people meditation can seem a bit hokey and unrealistic. I think sometimes the word meditation itself can be a little bit scary and intimidating, so let’s just take that off the table. Instead, why not view mindfulness as a time out. Time out in the sense that it is taking five or 10 minutes just for yourself to reflect on what you are experiencing. In this day and age we are always on the go and always connected. It can be challenging for us to really know what we are feeling or experiencing because we are always moving on to the next thing. Last week as I talked about anger, I mentioned that many people might be unaware of the deeper feelings fueling anger and that is often because we don’t give ourselves the time to truly live in the experience.
If you want to practice being mindfulness, but don’t know where to start try setting aside just five minutes in a quiet, comfortable place to focus on our breathing. A good way to focus on taking deep breaths is to inhale through your nose counting to four and exhaling through your mouth, also counting to four. Use the five minutes to just let yourself be and pay attention to any thoughts, feelings or bodily sensations that pop up. For many people taking this type of time out can be a little bit uncomfortable. That is totally okay and realize that it takes time to get used to slowing things down.
If mindfulness is something that really clicks with you, there are many therapists who incorporate mindfulness exercises into their practice. Ask around until you find one that is a good fit for you. There are also tons of resources regarding mindfulness and sites such as Psychology Today and Psych Central provide helpful resources that are easy to understand. Give mindfulness a try and see if giving yourself a time out changes anything for you.

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