• Clo Nickel

Mindfulness 101 - Informal Mindfulness

Mantra: "Be Present"

Most people associate mindfulness with meditation. While meditation can be a part of mindfulness, they are actually two separate practices.

Mindfulness involves focusing our awareness on the present moment. In other words, it is an intentional, deliberate noticing of what we are doing, or what is in our external surroundings using all of our senses. This is what is often called "informal mindfulness."

"Living in the present" is not just a passing new-age phrase, but rather an evidence-based therapeutic technique. Mindfulness teaches us to lessen rumination (repeatedly thinking of the same negative thoughts over and over), and can be effective at stopping us from habitually worrying about the future.

It gives our brain a CHOICE. To continue to be lost in our maladaptive thought patterns; or, to bring awareness out of our busy minds, our attention into the present moment, and to intentionally take notice of what is happening in our external environment.

The first step of mindfulness is actively turning your attention to the sights, smells and sensations surrounding you. Pause and look around.

What are you seeing? What are you hearing? What are you doing? What are you tasting? What are you smelling?


Mantra: "Be Present"

1.Take a mindful walk outdoors. Look up into the sky and really notice how the sky and clouds appear. Sense the wind or sun on your skin. Take notice of the trees. Look at the leaves and their design, look at the bark, and then notice if there are any birds in the tree. Listen for the rustling of the leaves, the chirping of the birds. Go ahead and touch the leaves, the tree trunk and feel the sensations under your fingertips. Inhale the scent. Describe the colors to yourself, the shape, the details. Take notice of buildings, people's faces, animals or whatever else is in your surroundings. Open your eyes. Really, really look at life going on around you. This is what is meant by being fully "awake" to your life.

2. Chose one activity and pay attention to every aspect of what you are doing. Focus completely on daily activities such as drinking a cup of coffee, cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry etc. When you are engaged in this activity take notice of what things look like, smell like, sound like, and taste like. When thoughts arise, train your mind to keep coming back to what you are engaged in, rather than habitually stray into the past or the future.

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