Mindfulness is present moment awareness
It means paying attention to our thoughts, emotions, and feelings in the body as they are happening and adopting an attitude of curiosity and compassion.
How it Helps
The practice of mindful awareness can help us to feel better, especially if we are struggling with difficult emotions, fluctuations in our mood or physical pain. It is a skill of stepping into a mode of being” present with whatever is happening, rather than reacting and getting stuck on autopilot.
Mindfulness teaches us to:
- Be more present and engaged in everyday life, rather than being lost in thoughts about the past or worry about the future
- Step out of autopilot so we can be more purposeful in our day-to-day choices
- Notice our direct experiences (body sensations, emotions, thoughts) – whether they be pleasant, unpleasant or neutral
- Regulate emotions and ride the waves of their intensity
- Learn to respond rather than react to or avoid difficulties
- Relate to ourselves and others with kindness, warmth and compassion
Exercises & Practices
Eating mindfully involves bringing moment-to-moment awareness to our food as we are eating. Not only will we more fully taste our food, we are also stepping out of autopilot mode and into the present.
- As you eat your food, be as curious as you can to find out as much information about it. Using all of your senses, fully explore your food
- What colours, textures, patterns, etc. can you see?
- What textures can you notice? Is it crunchy or soft?
- What do you notice about how the food smells?
- Does the food make any sounds as you are eating?
- Next, place the food in your mouth and roll it around to all sides with your tongue, noticing how it tastes and feels in your mouth
- Take a moment to reflect on all that you discovered.
The 3-Minute Breathing Space
The breathing space provides a way to step out of automatic pilot mode and reconnect with the present moment. The key skill in mindfulness practice is to maintain awareness in the moment. Nothing else.
AWARENESS – Bring yourself into the present moment by deliberately adopting an erect and dignified posture. If possible, close your eyes. Then ask: “What is my experience right now in thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations?”
GATHERING – Acknowledge and register your experience, even if it is unwanted.
Then, gently redirect full attention to breathing, to each in-breath and to each out-breath as they follow, one after the other.
EXPANDING – Expand the field of your awareness around your breathing, so that it includes a sense of the body as a whole, your posture, and facial expression.
Grounding skills can serve as a life preserver in those moments of extreme distress. Use these skills to help bring yourself back into the window of tolerance:
- Take deep breaths; extend your exhale
- Release gripped hands
- Stand tall; feel the ground beneath you
- Take a brief walk
- Notice your feet connecting with the floor
- Orient to and label objects in the room
- Listen to a song you enjoy
- Call a friend you trust