For those that are interested in practicing mindfulness, but don’t know the basics, or where to start, this quick rundown is for you!
Mindfulness by definition is the “process of purposely bringing one's attention to experiences occurring in the present moment”. (1)
The attention that is given in this moment is without judgment, meaning that there is no good or bad feeling attached to the event. It just IS.
Mindfulness can be used as therapy. The awareness, or the birds-eye-view to the moment, opens up the possibility of working on your self-growth and self-healing.
If you have a negative feeling or attachment to the moment, you might also have feelings of anxiety, fear, or stress. Many times, those are not emotions you want to deal with at high rates.
A good example of how negative feelings can hinder self-growth and self-love comes from the field of Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). When there is an emergency occurring, an EMT has to act as quickly as possible in order to save a life! If the EMT were to spend any time reacting emotionally to the person or scenario, that time would be lost minutes, even seconds. Minutes and seconds can mean the difference between life and death for the patient or situation EMTs are tending to. In the world of EMTs, there is no time in the moment to attach anxiety, stress, or fear to it. In managing their feelings, EMTs can take the next step and save a life.
Much like EMTs, if you can accept and manage your feelings, you can more easily work through them, move past them, and grow from them.
Furthermore, acceptance of an experience decreases one's suffering. As suffering decreases, happiness increases.
It's important to note that even in the practice of mindfulness, there must be a balance between feeling and being numb. The goal is not to completely eliminate every bad feeling you have, but instead to feel it and manage it more effectively, the way you want to, ideally.
Many of the points I brought up in this post are also a part of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and have further steps to implement. But for now, we will continue with what to do with all this information.
Here is a quick 3-minute exercise to get you started on your journey (2).
The first minute is spent on answering the question “how am I doing right now?” while focusing on the feelings, thoughts, and sensations that arise, and trying to give these words and phrases.
The second minute is spent on keeping awareness of the breath.
The last minute is used for an expansion of attention outward from the breath, feeling the ways in which your breathing affects the rest of the body.
The act of shifting your focus from your feelings, to your breath, and then to your body, is the practice of consciously shifting your attention from one thing to another, and then moving past it. This is the act of mindfulness.
2. Ackerman, Courtney E. “22 Mindfulness Exercises, Techniques & Activities for Adults (+ PDF's).” PositivePsychology.com, PositivePsychology, 16 Oct. 2020, www.positivepsychology.com/mindfulness-exercises-techniques-activities/.