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Restoring with Mindfulness

More than likely you have experienced mindfulness naturally in events such as smelling flowers, noticing the beauty of a sunset, or feeling the embrace of someone you love. Mindfulness is the act of grounding yourself in the present moment.  It is shifting gears from thinking about the past or planning for the future to just being with what is happening now. Many of us can only hold mindfulness for a moment before we slip back into our natural mode of thinking and doing. Countless research studies point to the emotional and physical benefits of a daily mindfulness practice.  I myself have found a place of internal peace I can call upon even as the storms of life arise.  
Mindfulness is simple by definition but requires consistent practice to reap its rewards.  Meditation is a more formal practice of mindfulness.  Both formal and informal practices are equally important.  Many working professionals struggle with taking time for mindfulness despite the benefits including stress relief, increased creativity, and improved focus.   The good news is that mindfulness can be something you practice in a small way in the beginning.  It is really better to have some than none at all.  A tiny habit of just three to five minutes a day is a great way to begin learning this powerful ability.  For those of you who have a regular practice of meditation, I hope you can play with some of these ideas for your workday.

Try a mindfulness app or online program. 

If you are new to mindfulness, allow yourself to learn through guided experiences.  There are many apps and online programs to support you.  And many of them are short and easily done first thing in the morning, lunchtime or bedtime. For example, the free online meditations from UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center are quick, easy and skillfully presented.  You can check out my article reviewing some of the more popular apps and online websites that teach mindfulness for more information.  Most importantly, find some guided practice that helps you feel restored.

Be with your breathing. 

A few times per day, practice mindful breathing.  Give full attention to the fact that you are breathing.  Notice how the air feels as it comes in through your nose, down into your belly and back out again.  You will likely have thoughts during your breathing.  If you do, just notice the thought without judgement and return full awareness to your breath.  Some people find that applying words such as “right here” with the in-breath and “right now” with the out-breath helps.  This is a very soothing experience that can restore you no matter what demands you have.  This is also a great practice to try when you go from work to home.   

Bring mindfulness to everyday experiences. 

Being present for the moments of everyday life can bring joy and other positive feelings.  For example, noticing the smells after a good rain or the feel of the sun on your skin.  Try taking a break or having lunch outside.  Notice what you see, smell, hear and feel.  This can be a brief daily habit that rejuvenates allowing you to be more productive for the remainder of your day

Take a mindful walk. 

Let yourself “stop and smell the roses.”  Nature is rich with present moment experiences.   Take a break to refresh yourself with a walk on our beautiful campus. You can choose one of the Creative Walking for Health Pathways or blaze your own trail.  Bring your full awareness to the sensation of your feet making contact with the ground, the smells, the sights, and feelings.  Take a moment to notice something in nature with your full awareness like the rustle of leaves on a tree.  Breathe in as you notice the soothing aspect and simplicity of being present.  Again, you may have thoughts and that’s okay.  Just notice and come back to the experience of being present. 

Have a mindful meal. 

Savor the flavors, textures, and smells of your food with full awareness.  Light a candle and mindfully notice the glow as you breathe and enjoy each bite. 
The beauty of mindfulness is that it is a natural inner capacity for health ready to be awakened in each one of us.  All we have to do is strengthen it!   No matter where you are in your journey, Life and Work Connections is here to support you.