June 7, 2021

How to ACT Mindfully

Although the concept of mindfulness is simple,understand how to put it into practice in daily life can be challenging.  Here are some ideas.  

What is mindfulness? Although mindfulness is often described as sitting cross-legged, silent and
“turning off” your mind, mindfulness can be so much more. While a meditation exercise can be
one way of practicing mindfulness, mindfulness can truly happen anywhere and at any time.
Mindfulness can be driving into work and noticing a flock of birds flying across the sky.
Mindfulness can be eating your favorite junk food (my weakness is gummy worms) and really noticing the taste, texture and smell. Mindfulness is much simpler than people imagine because it is paying attention on purpose. In order to be mindful, all you need to do is bring awareness to the here-and-now with openness and curiosity. If you are interested in being more connected to the present moment, here are a few ideas:

Try using your five senses (vision, taste, smell, sound, and touch) while doing a task
Example: Cooking pasta for dinner
 Vision: Noticing the water bubble while it is boiling
 Taste: Tasting a noodle to see if the texture is just right
 Smell: Smelling the tomato sauce as you stir the pot
 Sound: Hearing the water bubbles make a small “popping” sound
 Touch: Noticing the smooth, wooden texture of your spoon as your stir
 Walk mindfully by paying attention to your steps (How do your feet feel as they hit the
pavement?) and noticing your surroundings (Does it smell like fresh-cut grass? Has that
tree always been there?)

Interact mindfully with others by limiting distractions, such as turning off your phone or
the TV, and actually reflecting on what the person is saying Pay attention to your emotions. Try naming your feelings as they arise and look at them as if you were a curious scientist. Ask yourself “I wonder what this emotion is trying to
tell me?”

Notice the physical sensations in your body. Do you notice that your jaw is clenched? Are your shoulders up to your ears? Do you feel your stomach grumbling?
Pay attention to your breathing. Do you notice your chest rising? Do you feel your
stomach filling with air?
Although the concept of mindfulness is simple, I understand that it can be much more difficult to put into practice. Our minds are constantly pumping out thoughts and the world is full of distractions. Please know it is completely normal to initially struggle with practicing mindfulness and it will take time and self-compassion to challenge our natural urges to distance, distract and disconnect. If you notice yourself getting distracted, just pay attention to this on purpose and with curiosity.