We live in a fast-paced society where it feels like there's rarely (dare I say never) enough time. I know I'm not alone in this feeling; I hear about it daily from friends and family, and of course the clients I counsel in my practice. The overwhelm is folded into the lives of my clients who are struggling to conceive, those grieving, the women who are adjusting to the reality of motherhood, the men who feel a ridiculous amount of pressure to provide and succeed financially. Sometimes the greatest stressors come from within, our attempts to be the best partner/parent/daughter/brother/insert role.
Mindfulness has been a buzz word for the past decade or so and shows no sign of leaving center stage of the $3.7 trillion global wellness market (Reference). And there's good reason-- midnfulness is touted as the antidote for aging, perfectionism, anxiety, depression. The list goes on. But for those unfamiliar with mindfulness, learning what it is and what it isn't, and figuring out how to bring it into your life can cause more of those feelings of overwhelm we're trying to conquer. After all, won't adding something else to your to do list make you even busier?
That feeling of being busy and rushing all the time, there's a choice in that. At least that's what the gurus of mindfulness tell us. With a mindful approach, we get to decide how we interact with the world around us. Mindfulness helps us to slow down and to pay attention to our thoughts, behaviors and reactions. Mindfulness allows us to respond rather than react.
How to Be More Mindful
So how do we bring mindfulness into our daily lives? Like all things we strive towards, we must develop a mindfulness practice to reap the rewards. We must schedule a time, then stop what we're doing, and sit. Starting with a guided meditation can often be a helpful place to begin for those who have no prior experience with mindfulness. Below is a short 5-minute guided mindfulness exercise. It's one that I introduce to clients in my practice and in my infertility support groups: 5 Senses Mindfulness Exercise. I didn't write it myself, but it's my recording.
I like this exercise because it allows us to recognize the many ways we can be mindful in our own bodies each and every day. By attuning to the senses we can invite ourselves to stay in the present moment when we're eating, resting, gazing, walking, listening-- grounding ourselves wherever we may be, whenever we need it.
The Wandering Mind
I like to remind my clients that there's no right and wrong with mindfulness; it's simply about cultivating awareness. Many people incorrectly believe they're "doing it wrong" because their mind wanders. This is normal as our minds are made to think. The practice of mindfulness is to simply guide your attention back to whatever it is you are doing-- breathing, pushing a grocery cart, taking a shower. Yes, each of these activities can be done mindfully. But let's start with sitting.
So find yourself a quiet place to begin. Push the button below when you're ready. You will need to download the link in order to play it on iTunes. I hope this experience allows you to slow down, if even for just 5 minutes
Whether you're a busy parent or longing to be one, mindfulness is an invaluable tool to help cope with the stressors of daily living. If you’re looking for a therapist in the San Diego area, I’m happy to help. Feel free to reach out by phone or email and we can talk about ways you might benefit from counseling.