By Debbie Lyn Toomey, RN, CIPP
Author of The Happiness Result
Six year ago, I fell in love with mindfulness while studying Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). I fell hard and I was never the same again. I learned how simple and forgiving this technique was for someone like me who was constantly juggling work/life balance. What is mindfulness? It is being in the present and experiencing that moment with all your senses. It’s also a way of becoming non-judgmentally intimate with yourself – the good, the bad, and the ugly. In a nut shell, it is a science, a practice, and a way of life.
Since studying MBSR, I’ve studied other mindfulness specialties, such as, mindful education, mindful communication, mindful leadership, and mindful self-compassion. Over the course of six years I’ve created and facilitated mindfulness workshops for children and adults, keynoted on the topic, and even did research on it.
Mindfulness has become a part of my personal and my professional life. But even though, I practice it all the time, I still get mindless! Sometimes it happens when I am trying to focus and concentrate on something important, like reading, writing, or even listening to someone. I feel like a mindfulness practitioner impostor. I should know better, right? Wrong!
As it turns out, I’m not the only one. According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is considered “the father of mindfulness” the more we practice mindfulness, the more we notice how mindless we are. We are only human. It’s part of the human experience since we have about 70,000 thoughts going through our head every day. It’s no wonder we get distracted from time to time despite mindfulness. After all, that is why mindfulness is considered a practice. It’s a skill that we constantly need to work on so that we can get better and better at it. The more we do it, the stronger our mindfulness muscle becomes. The stronger it becomes, the sooner we can catch our mindlessness and get back on track to the task at hand.
Here are three one-minute mindfulness techniques for the busy person. If you are new to the practice, welcome! The exercises below are great for beginners. However, if you dabble with mindfulness and want to enhance your practice, the suggestions below are good for you as well. Set your timer and try one or more of the following activities today.
- Mindful breathing – Take a slow deep breath in through your nose and then out through your mouth. When you inhale, notice the coolness of the air as it enters your nostrils. Likewise, when you exhale, notice the warmth of your breath as it exits your mouth. Continue to monitor your breathing and be curious with it until the minute is over.
- Mindful listening – Either at your desk at work, in your car, or even in your home, close your eyes (not while driving of course!) and tune into the different sounds around you. Try to listen to as many as you can one after the other. Notice how your body responds to what it hears. If you hear a sound that is passing by, try to listen to the sound for as long as you can until it disappears, then choose another sound to focus on.
- Mindful eating – During one of your meals, take your time and eat slower than usual. To get the full experience of eating your food, examine each bite before you put it into your mouth. Look at its color, texture, and shape. Touch your food and notice the temperature of the food. Then, hold it close to your nose and smell it. Next, put the food into your mouth. Allow it to sit on your tongue until you can taste the flavors. Finally, notice how your tongue moves the food in your mouth to allow your teeth to chew it before you swallow it.
When you finish each technique, check in with yourself to see how you feel compared to when you started.
I know you are busy but remember, there are 1440 minutes/day. What better way to take care of yourself during your busy day than to set aside a few minutes to exercise your mindful muscles. I suggest that you try all three. Then pick one that you want to commit to for one week. When the week is over, choose another one to do for the next week, and so on. If you get distracted during any of the exercises, don’t worry. It happens. Just get back on track. Remember, while distraction is a part of life, noticing when you are mindlessness, is part of the mindfulness practice.
If you have any long-term goals and keep getting stuck from doubt or the distractions in your busy life, contact me for coaching at [email protected] today. Your best life awaits. I know it and so do you.