By Sarah Carter, LCSW
“In practicing mindfulness, you are practicing taking responsibility for being yourself and learning to listen to and trust your own being.” Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness is a practice of stillness, being present with each moment with intention and meaning. In the whirlwind of life, it is easy to find ourselves taken by emotions, thoughts and experiences. We may find ourselves in an emotional experience and say to ourselves “how did I end up here?” Mindfulness is a practice of connecting to your own inner wisdom, emotions and experiences and accepting them exactly as they are, non-judgmentally, with compassion and without fighting against our experiences. Mindfulness allows us to be an objective observer and consciously listen in and intentionally acknowledge what we are feeling and choose the path that aligns with the direction that we would like to take.
One way to start off your day with intention is by allowing yourself to sit in stillness for 5 minutes at the start of your day. Sitting and taking a moment to acknowledge your breath can allow the mind-body connection to become integrated. This allows you the opportunity to set the intention for your day but to also acknowledge your emotions, body sensation and realign with yourself. The challenge is to accept what shows up for us moment to moment, without judging our experience and wanting it to be something different than it is. Setting your intention can be something as simple as choosing to focus on breath or to accept your emotions as you experience them. Another intention can be to intentionally choose more patience or compassion for yourself throughout your day. As we practice non-judgmental attitudes, self-love and compassion with ourselves, we can adopt those outwardly in our interactions with others.
Start with 5 minutes of breathing each morning, and practice being the observer as you observe your breath and body sensations. Simply notice them. When you first start this practice, its normal to find yourself stuck in judgement or perhaps wanting to get to the “good feelings”. In noticing your tendencies, you can then begin to understand how they show up in day-to-day life. In addition, you may find yourself chasing your thoughts or attaching to emotions or experiences. The practice is to observe your thoughts and return to your breath. In yoga “Prana” is our life force it allows energy and breath to follow through us. We can easily find ourselves “stuck” in an emotion or experience or an outcome that we want to create. When we sit back and let life breathe through us and notice our experiences, we can experience the flow of life.
1- Find a space in your home that is comfortable and begin by breathing in and breathing out. Take in deep slow breaths and notice emotions, body sensations that come up for you. When you find your mind wandering, gently bring it back to the present moment. If you find yourself in a moment of judgment or frustration, compassionately anchor yourself to your breath. Start with 5 minutes and continue to increase your time with each breath.
2- Throughout your day come back to your intention or mantra or affirmation. Throughout your day acknowledge your thought and practice breathing in and breathing out. Journaling your experience can be a way to increase your awareness and acknowledge emotions, body sensations and thoughts.
As we increase our awareness, our connection to our inner wisdom can become more accessible. I have noticed that as clients increase in conscious awareness, they are able to start trusting their instincts, decisions and overall well-being increases. Learning to trust your instincts is an intentional practice that takes time, effort and patience and begins as you learn to embrace all the experiences life has to offer you.