5 Steps to Mindfulness
Hi Miracle Noodle Fans! It’s Teri! I wanted to tackle a subject that I struggle with. It’s the ability to live in the moment. Easier said than done, am I right?
For me, living in the moment is a struggle. I have a tendency to try and think 3 or more steps ahead. It’s been ingrained in me my entire life.
Think ahead. Worry about the future. Have a backup plan. Ugh.
There’s so much to think about. It can be overwhelming. We worry about what might not ever be, or we overplan. Do the following thoughts get overtime in your head?
“What will happen next?”
“What are we doing this weekend?”
“I have to plan for outcomes A, B, and C.”
We have been conditioned to prepare and worry about the future. We always look forward to the next big event, party, etc. But how often are we trying to live in the “here and now?” I guarantee if you try, you’ll have less anxiety, and will learn to relax. It’s something I am putting into practice everyday. I have to do something to get the hamster running on the wheel in my head to just stop and take a time out.
My husband and I take nightly walks, and I am starting to get in the habit of not bringing my phone. I want the entire time to be spent focused on us at that time. Sure, we will bring up upcoming things, but our priority is commenting on things we see on the walk and letting it spawn a discussion.
Maybe it’s a plant I haven’t noticed before. Maybe it’s a car he turns his head at. Maybe it’s the evening sky. We are trying to find things to talk about that are outside of work or anything related to stress.
Let me tell you, it can be a struggle. Silence is uncomfortable for some. At times, my husband and I won’t even talk at all for a couple of minutes. Yet, we are with each other, and we can feel the love for one another. That too, is being in the moment. This also brings up the next thing.
I notice a lot of people have a problem with active listening. Sometimes we are trying to think of the correct follow up, or the next thing to talk about, rather than focusing on what the other person is trying to say. When you communicate with someone, try to push away the urge to have the perfect follow up. Try to push away the worry about what you will say in order to avoid silence. Listen actively and take time to absorb all the information. Ask questions if you do not understand or feel you missed something.
Address Inner Struggles
Think of things or actions that prevent you from being aware or things that disturb your flow.
Here’s an example from my own life. There was a time I thought I had to bring a camera with me on every single hike or trip. Why? Because yours truly has a background in photography. I was afraid I would miss the perfect shot, and personally, I found this stressful. So, I quit packing the camera with me on trips where I wanted to be in the moment.
The other approach I use is to have the camera, but try and forget it’s there. If there is something I just have to capture because it’s so beautiful or thought-provoking, then I will take it out. But, it better be good! LOL!
Steps to Mindfulness
You know what I am going to say. It’s meditation. Listen, I have ADD and the thought of meditation kinda scares me. What’s going to pop up when I blank out all distractions? Will an evil clown jump out of my mind? No, let’s be realistic.To get over this hump, I have downloaded an app called “Meditation” and it has a starter program I’m using called “7 Days to Meditation” and other 7 and 14 day programs to work through. If I can do it, you can do it. What’s the worst thing that could happen? A peaceful mind? I’ll take that!
When you go about your activities, even the mundane stuff, are you thinking about how things feel or make you feel? Do you focus on what you are doing vs what you feel you need to be doing? Do you make observations? Something as simple as saying, “This coffee mug I am holding is blue. The coffee is hot. It brings me comfort. I am happy.” Taking notice of things that are right in front of you and emotions you are experiencing can put you in the moment.
Are you a gym goer? Do you workout? If so, I want you to try acknowledging every move your body makes at the time you are executing a movement. How is your breathing? What does your heart rate feel like? Are you warm? Are you cold? How does the activity make you feel?
Let me give you an example. I present to you, the deadlift. The deadlift is my jam. It’s my favorite weightlifting activity in the world. Nothing makes me feel as powerful as the deadlift. I am totally in the moment. Lessons from this lift can be applied to mindfulness. Here’s what happens to me.
I approach the bar, weight loaded. I say in my head the actions as I do them.
“Is my stance correct? Yes! Time to proceed! Remember, Teri, the deadlift is a squat from the ground. Left hand overhand grip, right hand underhand, outside my knees. Bend the knees. Bar is at my shins. Arms straight down. Butt down. Belly button tucked into the spine. Head in neutral alignment. Neutral spine. Breath in and hold. Squeeze my butt. Engage my lats and shoulders. Lift/pull up and hinge hips. Stand up erect without over accentuating or leaning back, or over-rolling shoulders back. Breathe out. Control the bar back down. Control the weight. Let the weight rest. Do not use the bounceback to take you into the next lift. That’s cheating. Repeat. Check form, breath in....”
You see, that’s awareness. That’s being in the moment. Feel free to try this technique with everyday activities as well. For example, preparing breakfast, picking out clothes, doing laundry, you name it.
4. Be Aware of Phrasing
What do I mean? Listen to yourself. When you describe things, write, or talk with other people, are your words positive or negative? Switching words around and really thinking about what you are saying and how you want to impact people with your verbiage is important. It has the power to change your day or someone else’s day and attitude.
5. Body Awareness
Has anyone walked up to you and said “You look tense, is there something wrong?” Whoa! There’s a reality check. You may not even be aware that you have resting-whatever-face going on. Or, maybe your shoulders are up to your ears, maybe you have a scowl, or maybe you look like you’re going to cry.
Emotions are OK, but are you in touch with them? Are you listening to the cues your body is telling you? Ask yourself how you feel when stress comes up. Is your heart rate escalating? Are you breathing heavy? If so, you have the power to calm yourself down by being in the moment, and being aware of your feelings.
I hope this helps! Please feel free to share your thoughts on mindfulness. What works for you? How are you trying to live in the moment?
Teri Tenseth Market is a Personal Trainer and holds a diploma in Nutrition. She is also the Social Media Manager for Miracle Noodle. Have a question for Teri? You can find her online on Facebook, Instagram, and at Twitter @fcpchick. Alternatively, she can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.