Do you ever try to take a relaxing moment to yourself, and then notice your brain is escaping to the never ending to do list, upcoming events, or a past mistake?
Our brain tends to focus on the past or future, which can lead to triggering emotional moments throughout our day.
Mindfulness is a term you may have heard a lot, but what really is it?
And how can we practice this in our daily lives?
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in the moment and focusing on the details of what you are doing. I know it seems pretty hard tap to into mindfulness, due to the mind being focused on what’s next and how we can get there, but mindfulness might be the key to helping you feel more connected to what you are doing and help to complete a task more efficiently.
When you are mindful, your brain focuses on the smaller details of your task, allowing you to fully grasp the beauty and depth you have in front of you. When you’re mindful, your awareness increases to give us the ability to see things you might have overlooked before.
Okay, so now you have the idea of mindfulness.
But how can we implement it into your fast paced days?
Mindfulness is something that is practiced over time to build the muscle in your brain of focus. You might find that when you’re trying to focus on one thing, your mind wanders to other responsibilities.
The key to managing that lingering thought is to acknowledge the thought is happening, accept the thought, and return focus to the original task you’re focusing on.
Try this trick to add mindfulness to your day:
There’s no need to add things to your plate, so let’s talk about how mindfulness can be applied to the tasks you’re already doing.
The 5,4,3,2,1 exercise is a great place to start. In this exercise, you tune into your five senses: your sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. The numbers collate to each sense for the simple reason of availability. Meaning, you might not always have five things to taste readily around you, but you can definitely see five things. Your five senses are the way you actively connect with the world daily, so you’ll use them to mindfully focus.
- First, focus on five things you can see, observing the world around you and noticing details you may have not noticed in the past. Pick five things to describe to yourself. “I see a phone”, “I see a tree”, ect
- The next step is noticing four things you can feel. Bring your body to connect to objects around you by placing your hands on five objects around you and focusing on the textures.
- Next, notice three things you hear, focusing on hearing one thing at a time. It may be focusing on the cars passing by the street, a ceiling fan, the humming of a light, and just really taking those sounds in as they become louder than they have ever been with our full focus on hearing one thing at a time.
- Now move onto smell, finding two things we can smell. There is no better time to literally stop and smell the roses, or smell the scents of your home.
- Lastly, taste, finding one thing you can taste and focusing on the sensation of the taste in your mouth.
These five senses have allowed us to connect to our surrounding through things we would already be doing, but now with intentional focus.
Want to instill this in your children?
You can easily share mindfulness with your children by helping them to connect to the moments they are engaged in, and further feel connected to you, who engages in the mindful activity with them.
Here is one to try:
- Grab a favorite treat, may it be a chocolate covered raisin, piece of gum, or single piece of cereal.
- You begin the activity as aliens from a different planet who have never tried this treat, each of you taking turns describing this “never before seen object” in its smell, shape, texture, sound, and what the object does! The more details the better, allowing you both to connect on a single object and mindfully share the moment together.
There are many ways we can bring mindfulness into our day. It literally begins with one moment at a time.
**Written by Sienna Thompson, M.S, MFT, therapist on staff at One Heart Counseling Center**