Revelations—by Martha Childers & Tracy Ochester Mindfulness for Everyday Peaceful Living
uch of our time is spent plugging away at routine tasks, barely noticing what we are doing or how we are feeling about it. As a result, we tend to get stuck in our habits, neglecting to appreciate the moment and causing a disconnect from others and ourselves. Flying on autopilot, life passes us by with little awareness. The cost of this mindlessness is a sense of dissatisfaction, boredom, restlessness and maybe even feeling a little dead inside. Fortunately we can break free of these habits through Mindfulness, which is a calm awareness of a gentle, sustained attention to the present moment. It involves being fully conscious in the here and now while accepting, without judgment, the experiences, thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations that arise. Mindfulness can be cultivated through practice and increases mental clarity, compassion, acceptance, and emotional selfregulation leading toward improved life satisfaction and functioning. The practice of Mindfulness helps us to be more aware of our emotions, choose our responses wisely, accept things that are outside of our control, adjust to change, have more compassion for our own struggles and those of others. A psychotherapist trained in Mindfulness can help you learn techniques and guide you in your practice. Practicing Mindfulness can be as simple as being aware during the performance of daily tasks, such as teeth brushing, eating meals or waiting in line. For example, feeling the sensations of the teeth and gums being cleaned, the suds foaming in the mouth, and all the experiences that usually go unnoticed while brushing our teeth, can make us feel alive. While waiting in line at the grocery store, stop, become present in the moment, relax, experience yourself and your environment. Time will expand as you breathe slowly. Pull back, and wait your turn while seeing, feeling, hearing and smelling the space around you. Connect with the checkout clerk; enjoy this unique person’s presence and the (leeting interactions you will share together. Lose yourself in the experience. Notice how you feel, and this will motivate you to repeat the experience next time you are waiting in line. Each day, take a little extra time to pay attention to what you see, hear, feel, smell and taste during routine activities. Resist multitasking, such as
For more information about mindfulness and meditation, a good place to start is University of California, Berkley’s Greater Good website (http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/ mindfulness/de(inition), which has a number of videos illustrating mindfulness techniques and explaining the rationale behind the practice. You can even take the Greater Good Mindfulness Quiz (http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/quizzes/ take_quiz/4/) to (ind out how mindful you already are in your everyday life.
Practicing Mindfulness can be as simple as being aware during the performance of daily tasks, such as teeth brushing, eating meals or waiting in line. watching TV or listening to music while you perform your tasks. Instead, calmly observe your physical sensations, thoughts and emotions without judging them. An even more effective way to develop Mindfulness is to keep a regular practice of meditation. Choose a quiet space where you are unlikely to be distracted or interrupted and sit comfortably, starting with short periods of only 10 or 15 minutes at a time. Begin with just observing the breath as the object of meditation. When your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the sensations of air entering and exiting your nostrils and the rise and fall of your chest and diaphragm. Over time you can increase the length of your practice or schedule in several meditation sessions per day. Those new to meditation may (ind EVOLVING… A GUIDE FOR CONSCIOUS LIVING
it useful to enlist the help of a therapist or mentor who can guide them in their practice. There are a number of documented health and cognitive bene(its to cultivating Mindfulness. Research indicates it decreases stress and worry while increasing working memory capacity, and sustained attention. Emotional regulation is also improved. An ever-increasing supply of excellent resources for learning Mindfulness is available in bookstores, on the web and in your community. Free apps are available that you can download to use to remind you to take a mindful moment as well as suggest subjects of meditation. A Mindfulness informed therapist can provide you with more resources and help you clarify the path that is best for you as a unique individual. Tracy Ochester, PsyD is an independently practicing psychologist in Leawood, KS www.mindfulkc.com Martha Childers, EdS, LPC, is a sole practitioner psychotherapist conveniently located on the Country Club Plaza childerscounselingservice.com
The August issue focuses on mental health and freedom from addictions.