Later in this piece I will share a little bit of my story of discovering and practicing mindfulness. However, I wanted to share some practical ways to begin practicing mindfulness in your own life today. Here are a couple:
1) Yoga: yoga focuses on physical components — such as body postures, breathing techniques, and relaxation techniques — to achieve a strong body and calm, balanced mind. Yoga includes the regulation of breathing patterns, moving calmly through the practices with a focused mind, and deep relaxation in the final resting pose.
2) Deep breathing & Relaxation: deep breathing techniques are used often by mental health professionals and involve taking deep, slow measured breaths to produce feelings of calm and reduce feelings of anxiety. Therapists also use guided and progressive muscle relaxation to help clients relax their bodies in order to focus on the present and become aware of where negative emotions are being held in the body as well as the mind.
Another more informal way to practice mindfulness is something I started doing many years ago. I call it—creating and using a “personal mantra.” Let me explain.
I first learned about mindfulness many years ago in my early years of grad school. And in one way, this is funny because I began learning about the practice in a life season where I needed it very much. I was going to school several nights a week, working full time, interning and also trying to maintain a personal life which involved relationships with loved ones (including a serious boyfriend) as well as regularly serving at a non-profit. Just typing this out makes me begin to feel overwhelmed. Whew! I was busy!
The point is, I started to wake up each day feeling anxious. Because I rarely had a day where I did not have to be somewhere—work, school, internship, etc.—I started to wake up in a sense of worry– often because I could not remember where I was even supposed to be that day. I also noticed, when I was somewhere, my mind was always moving forward thinking about whatever I needed to do next. I was not living in the present. I was not aware of my feelings. And I was missing out on life.
So, after reading and learning about mindfulness, I knew I needed to utilize it in my daily life if I was going to not only survive, but find ways to enjoy and thrive in this crazy season of my life. I started exercising and regularly practicing deep breathing AND I created a “personal mantra” which was this:
Be fully present in every circumstance in order to gain the most from every life experience.
This phrase and being mindful of it day in and day out helped me to lean into each commitment each day. I started gleaning moments of learning and beauty and quit worrying about what was to come next. All these years later, and especially when life gets busy, I return to this mantra. It keeps me grounded and mindful and helps me find meaning in each and every day.
If you are wanting to learn more about mindfulness, or are experiencing sadness about your past or worry about your future, a licensed Orlando psychotherapist can help you. Please call Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to make an appointment.