Take a moment and think about what you were doing last evening at 7 pm? How about 7 am this morning? Chances are you listed more than one thing, regardless of which you chose. Do you find yourself driving to work, drinking coffee, eating breakfast and making phone calls? How about watching TV, while responding to emails and catching up on texts? If you are a parent you are probably all too familiar with what making dinner, helping with homework, packing lunches for the next day, while listening to your significant other’s stories about the day looks like.
Mindfulness by definition is the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. Has anyone ever told you to “relax” and you felt yourself become more anxious? Not too many people can relax on command. The same holds true for mindfulness. Mindfulness is not an action. Instead, it is a way of being.
As humans we have been taught that multi-tasking is a strength and personal quality worth bragging about. However, we have been slightly misled. Research shows that we really cannot focus on multiple things at once, but instead one’s brain and attention switch very quickly from one thing to another.
We live in a world with many amenities, which can be great, but also very distracting. As you learn to become a more mindful individual, you will begin to notice benefits across all areas of your life. Couples, families and children can benefit greatly from learning how to practice mindfulness. The best news is that you can begin practicing mindfulness today.
Try to consciously focus on one thing at a time and challenge your loved ones to do the same. When teaching mindfulness to children start small. For instance it is eating OR playing with the iPad, not both simultaneously. For adults, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed in any given moment, stop and become present by utilizing your senses. Start describing what you can see, hear, smell, taste or touch around you. This strategy can be utilized anytime and anywhere because it can be done aloud or quietly to yourself no matter where you are or whom you are with.
Another great way to practice mindfulness is through Yoga. Yoga is a spiritual and ascetic discipline, which through the adoption of specific bodily postures, focus on breath control and simple meditation, is widely practiced for health and relaxation. Yoga is great for children and adults and can be a wonderful experience when done alone or with others. If practicing mindfulness is challenging for you, you could find the integration of Yoga’s physical and mental elements helpful.
Every moment is a chance to become more mindful.
By Emily Tonn, RMHCI