By Emilee Kerper
Mindfulness has become a major “buzz word” over recent years, as the health industry jumped on the self care bandwagon and started making suggestions. Not that we’re complaining about mindfulness becoming a household term, but do we really know what it means to be mindful and how are we practicing this skill?
Mindfulness is as it sounds; allowing your mind to be fully in the present. It means intentionally bringing your mind to focus on what you intend it to be focused on, rather than letting it run rampant about other unrelated topics, as we sometimes find ourselves doing. Practicing this skill of focusing our attention means that we can be more effective at the task at hand, whether that is doing the dishes, exercising, playing with our kids, meditating or any variety of activities you can think of.
Have you ever gotten in the car and completely zoned out, only to realize that you’ve arrived at your destination with little to no awareness of your drive? Have you ever met someone new and heard their name, only to realize you weren’t paying attention and now have to ask them to repeat their introduction? And here’s another one from my own experience, which hurts my heart: ever had your child tell you a story and you completely tuned out because of something else on your mind, and you missed the whole thing? No judgment, friends, this is extremely common and we’re not here to call you out. We just came here to say that there is another way to go about your business and be more fully *in* it.
The ongoing and consistent practice of mindfulness trains our brains to stay more fully in the present moment so that we can drink the richness of these experiences in real time. It allows us to take in information without asking others to repeat it. It ensures that we are experiencing our time with others in its entirety, with no regrets about where our mind went while they shared their story. It really allows us to stay in reality, without drifting off into our worries, future-tripping and emotional spirals.
So how do we achieve this present-moment practice? Ahh, here we are at the good stuff. Stop for a moment and think about how you can be more “in this moment”. Notice what your mind wants to do, as you focus on that idea. And there you are. You just did it. That’s mindfulness. You stopped, thought about what you were doing and thinking, and you arrived at that mindful place, congratulations. It’s a process of intention. It’s a practice of noticing without judging. If it seems odd, which it may for awhile, start with five minutes at a time. I like to set a timer and just see what happens. You might focus on the ticking of a clock, the beating of your heart, your breathing, the sound of your washing machine, etc. And just notice your thoughts for that time. After a while, you will begin to find your thoughts throughout other parts of your day, wandering around, getting off topic and tempting you into that thought-spiral. It gets easier to notice, with practice.
This month, we’re learning about mindfulness in our connect groups, and we hope your child can join us! If you have any questions, please reach out to our program staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.