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Steps towards developing a mindfulness practice

Stressed out?

Is your patience wearing thin?

Are you emotionally and physically drained by the end of the day?

Given what’s happening in our world today, it’s not surprising to find the number of people suffering from stress, depression and anxiety on the rise. Just tuning into the news can be hazardous to your health! Reports of tumbling stock prices, natural disasters, man-made disasters, etc. can overwhelm your whole central nervous system! Never before have we been exposed to what is going on in the world 24/7.

Hmmm…which one holds more promise…the past, present or future?

With all of the worry about the future and the recriminations of the past it’s no wonder that we’re a society of stressed out and sleep deprived individuals!

stressed-societyWhen we are in a state of chaos our bodies and minds react instinctively and go into survival mode. This can be extremely draining, as we expend a lot of time and energy trying to find a way to attain balance between our inner lives and whats going on outside in our everyday world. It can become overwhelming and confusing as we lose track of the moment and spend much of our time reviewing past failures or successes and try to predict the future.

In my own life, I notice the ebb and flow of stress. Sometimes there are periods when the stress builds up and I end up feeling emotionally and mentally drained. On a physical level I often feel as it I have the strength of a noodle! The first place stress shows up in my body is in my shoulders. But even before it decides to fill the vacancy in my shoulders I can feel it trying to book a permanent room in my mind!

Help! I need some peace and quiet in my life!

Help! My mind has a mind of it's own!

The best method I’ve found to deal with feeling overwhelmed and stressed out is to check in periodically and become aware of my thoughts.

In this way I’ve been able to stop the Stress Construction Project from establishing a place of business in my head, body and spirit. This is one of the greatest benefits of developing a daily mindfulness practice. For me it’s been a lifesaving practice! It helps me to bring balance, clarity and connect with life!

It’s not about making all of the noise, frustration and worry go away. It’s about creating space and time to take care of my most important resource; myself. When I take these little breaks (or mind and body retreats) I break away from the past and the future and become fully present to what is going on in my mind and my body. I become aware of how my mind dictates how my body responds to any particular situation. I don’t have to anything, I can just pause and allow what ever I am feeling to be present. I don’t have to judge them, push them away or runaway from them. When I pause I learn that accepting my feelings, allowing them to be present and even welcoming them will not devastate or overwhelm me. In fact, I have a totally different experience as I don’t feel the drain of creating stories, going into action or predicting the future.

Steps Towards Developing a Mindfulness Practice:

Right now I want you to stop what you are doing and do the following:

  • Take in a deep breath, as you breath become aware of where you feel the breath in your body. Can you feel the breath as it enters your nostrils, do you feel it in your chest or in your belly? Slowly let the breath out and repeat this at three times and return to your normal breathing rythmn.
  • Become aware of the sensations in your body. You don’t have to do anything other then notice what you are feeling. Do you feel any tingling sesations? Any areas of tension, stress or pain? Just notice any sensations.
  • As you notice any areas of tension or stress take a moment to become aware any thoughts that follow this; like feeling a need to do something about it. Just acknowledge the thoughts, commentaries or judgments about your body sensations (for example you might feel pain in your back and then start thinking about how awful your day is going to be because of this pain.)
  • See if you can tune into the sounds that are going on around you, open your eyes and become aware of the colors that surround you, the smells. Just notice with your senses how much activity is going on around you and take it in.
  • Take in a long breath and then release it slowly. You can repeat this three more times and then resume what you were doing.

Take a few moments to think and write about the following:

  • What was it like to just be still for a few minutes? journaling
  • Did you notice anything different about your surroundings or about yourself?
  • Did you notice how many judgments, thoughts, commentaries and stories followed your feelings?
  • Can you see the benefits of not getting hooked into, or following the thougths and building stories?
  • How would this help you be more present to what is going on in the moment?
  • What was it like to take a break from your normal routine

Other Relaxing, Mindful Practices

Some other practices that will help you gain balance, clarity and connect with the moment are yoga, massage, and mindfulness meditation. Whether you are able to dedicate a few minutes a day to restoring balance, or whether you engage in one of the above activities, I can assure you that doing so will grant many benefits and rewards for both your emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. Its a gift of loving kindness to yourself!

Until next time! I wish you peace…

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One thought on “Steps towards developing a mindfulness practice”

  1. Claudia says:

    Thank you for taking the time to guide us to the path of consciousness. Learning to pause, breath and take note of our feelings can make such a difference. Have a great Day!!

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