Whether you realize it or not, you already have mindfulness. Just as we have other mental faculties, we can view mindfulness as a mental faculty, or an inherent mental power within us all. As such, mindfulness can be developed through training and practice. Although this takes effort, the good news is that everyone can access, practice, and apply mindfulness in their daily lives. In fact, you can start right now.
Notice that you are reading a blog about mindfulness. What are thoughts about this? Notice if you feel rushed or anxious, tired, or calm. Notice how your breath has been effortlessly coming and going. Pay attention for a moment to your breathing. Notice how your body feels as you sit and read.
Below are several foundations of mindfulness. Each foundation includes a short (1 minute) practice exercise where you can begin to practice growing your mindfulness today.
Foundations of Mindfulness
Mindfulness of the body (i.e., somatic experiences).
Practice: Bring your awareness to your body. Notice the air around you and your clothes touching your skin. Notice your posture, facial expression, and placement of your hands. Notice your body breathing and how your body responds to each breath in and each breath out. Notice any other sensations throughout your body. Connect and sustain your attention for a few moments with an area of your body that most draws your attention.
Mindfulness of feeling tone (i.e., the primary appraisal of experience as pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral).
Practice: Notice the sensory experiences in the current moment. Notice the sights, sounds, smells, or tastes. Notice the feeling tone of each experience and notice if it is pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. Repeat in your mind, “I see _____and it has a _____ tone,” “I hear and it has a _____ tone,” or “I smell and it has a ______tone.”
Mindfulness of mental states and mood (i.e., the cognitive and affective realm of experience).
Practice: Focus your attention on your mind and the mood of this moment. Does it feel bright, restless, calm, spacious or contracted, anxious or at peace? Notice if your mood is impacting your body. Does your body feel heavy or light, weak or strong, tired or alert? Notice if your thoughts are influenced by your mood. Repeat to yourself, “I am experiencing a ________ mood and my body feels_______,” “How are my thoughts being influenced in this moment?” Rest your attention here on your mood, your body, and thoughts for a few moments.
At its core, mindfulness involves the intentional deployment of our attention and awareness. We can literally practice this anywhere. In fact, that is one reason why mindfulness is such a useful coping strategy as we can tap into our awareness of the present moment whenever we feel overwhelmed or when we feel at ease and would like to connect more fully with a pleasant state.
We all have the power to engage and practice expanding our inherent faculty of mindfulness. Take just a moment to practice today.
Check out our new animated video on managing transitions:
Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.
Visit us at lindquistpsych.com
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