Practicing Mindfulness is easy but requires practice.
During my professional and personal career I have practiced meditation, visualization and awareness in the here and now.
But I have been leading a group for a while where we practice mindfulness and I have trained as a mindfulness instructor, so, little by little, I’m becoming an expert.
But experts become experts through practice.
You need to practice to experience the benefits of mindfulness.
Between the busy life we lead and the stories that our mind tells us, we spend the day “not really being there”.
Being present means that you’re aware of yourself, your emotions, your thoughts, your breathing, your sensations…
We could say that you’re more “in the body” than “in the mind”
- How many times a day are you in the here and now?
- How many times a day do you consciously stop to breathe and feel?
- Could you tell me an approximate number?
Undoubtedly, your number will be quite low.
But don’t worry, just like with everything else, you’ll need to create a habit to be more present in your life.
And creating habits involves a process.
But when you achieve it, when you’re present and can focus all your attention on the now, you connect with your center and for a moment all problems and worries disappear, and only you remain.
The feeling is extraordinary and the more capable you are of staying in the present,
the better you’ll feel.
5 steps to practice Mindfulness
As I mentioned, developing the habit of being present in your day-to-day is a process, and to do so, I advise you to follow some steps, which will help you achieve the presence you need.
1. Anchor yourself on your breathing
Breathing is always with you. It has always been and will be until you die.
But curiously, you don’t pay much attention to it.
Practicing mindfulness implies focusing on your breathing and using it as an anchor to bring you back to the present.
While you read, try to focus on your breathing.
Take a deep breath, and notice how the air goes in through your nose, reaching your lungs, and comes back out through your nose or mouth.
Then, breathe normally, without trying to change the rhythm.
Just focus on your breathing without judging it, without trying to do anything else than focusing on your breathing.
If you achieve it, you’ll get right back to the present.
2. Scan your body
One of the ways in which you can get to the present is through your body and feelings.
Take 5 to 10 minutes either to sit or lay down.
And start scanning your body, beginning by your feet, going up through your legs, over your core and arms until you reach your head.
Just feel your body, without trying to change anything.
- Feel your feet, are they cold or hot?
- And your legs? Are they heavy or light?
- How’s your back? And your shoulders?
As you can see, it’s very simple and as soon as you focus on your body, you won’t think about the past or future.
Without realizing it, and through this simple exercise, you’ll place yourself in the present almost without noticing it.
3. Pay attention to your feelings
Imagine someone you love.
Evoke the emotion they cause.
Try to feel that positive emotion.
And simply, observe it.
Don’t try to change anything.
Just keep all of your attention focused on that emotion.
4. Pay attention to your thoughts
In this case, you need to get into the observer position.
We all have that “I” that “observes”.
That “I” that notices bodily sensations, breathing and who can also notice thoughts.
Observe without judging or criticizing.
Just remain aware.
- What thought comes to mind?
- Perhaps what you need to do right after you finish this exercise?
- Perhaps something you forgot to buy yesterday?
- Perhaps some thought about work or a certain person?
Let the thoughts come and go.
And don’t try to change anything, just observe.
And if you notice yourself getting distracted, and one thought leading to another and another, and after a while, you don’t remember the exercise, it’s ok.
Carefully but decisively, refocus on your breathing and get back to the present.
5. Pay attention to your moves
Being in the present doesn’t mean staying still.
You can move while being here and now.
The thing is that to practice mindfulness, you need to slow down your movements.
Try to walk slowly, feeling each step, feeling your muscles move with each step, feeling your sock touching your shoe, and it touching the floor.
Try to pay attention without trying to change anything.
But focus on what you feel when you walk, on how your muscles change when you move.
And so, by focusing on your walk or a certain movement, by trying to feel it, you place yourself back in the present.
These exercises seem simple, but they aren’t, because we’re on autopilot all day long.
And disconnecting it requires choice and decision.
So the more you practice, the easier it will be.
And remember that there’s no good or bad way to do these exercises. Do them how they come.
Over time and with some practice, focusing at it will become easier.
What’s your experience with Mindfulness? Share your practices on the comments section.