Mindfulness can be a bit tricky to understand and even trickier to practice for many of us. By definition, mindfulness is the act of living in the moment and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness is all about "being" rather than "doing."
It is easier to explain with examples such as taking a mindful walk, eating a mindful meal, or even mindfully rocking a child. When taking a mindful walk, you would actually feel yourself breathe, feel the physical and emotional sensations of your body, and notice the surrounding environment (e.g., the different shades of green in the trees or the smell of freshly cut grass or the spring blossoms).
I can remember living on a farm as a child. During the summers I would often spend my time in the woods or the meadows feeling as though I was simply part of nature. I remember my delight in picking bluebells in the "upper woods" and playing house in the "lower woods." Even to this day, when I am on a quiet nature walk, away from cars, phones, and computers, I feel as though I simply belong there.
However, much of my life is typical - running here and there, or working on the computer for hours on end, not even noticing what is going on around me. Or worse, I am noticing everything that is going on and it is so overwhelming that I have to work to tune it out. The goal of mindfulness is to be alert yet relaxed, while focusing on what we are doing, or rather being.
Some explain this feeling as being in the "flow." This means experiencing something in such a positive enjoyable way that distractions go unnoticed. We are so used to having to multitask, that being mindful and being in the flow, is sometimes hard to even imagine.
The following are some ideas to help start practicing mindfulness, these will improve your ability to be aware of your experiences and your feelings.
Be aware of smells, sights, and sounds around you without judgment.
Notice how your body feels at different times of the day or after specific activities.
Notice your emotional feelings. Do you feel calm, nervous or anxious, angry, or pleasantly content? What is happening in your environment?
When you eat, pay attention to what, when, and why you are eating. Is it because you are really hungry, or are you bored or upset? Or is it simply out of habit (eating while you watch television)
Being mindful (paying attention) can actually help you understand yourself and help in making decisions. An example might be feeling irritated for no apparent reason, but when you pay attention, you notice that you can hear two television sets on in the background, sirens blaring in the distance, and maybe an offensive smell coming from somewhere. The opposite is also important, noticing and paying attention to what actually feels good enhances your state of happiness and sense of peace.
While working with Karen's Wellness Way coaching program, you will be encouraged to pay attention and note what you actually did and felt during the day. This can give you a better understanding of why you do what you do, as well as promote a sense of well-being.