The Oxford Dictionary describes mindfulness as, “A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations…” Living in the moment. Focusing on the present, rather than being carried away by anxious or negative thoughts. Perhaps we can even find a reason for mindfulness in Matthew 6:34: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” God knew the human tendency to ruminate, to grow anxious about the concerns and troubles of this world and the days to come; Jesus reminds us that worries cannot add hours to our day. Instead, we ought to appreciate and accept the moments given to us in each day.
Here are a few more mindfulness techniques you can practice and develop as you seek to enjoy the present moments!
1. Breathe in for 4, out for 4: our average breathing pace is 12-16 breaths per minute (John Hopkins Medicine, 2020), about 2 seconds in and 2 seconds out. When stressed, that may speed up even more! Slow down and take deep breaths from your belly rather than your chest.
2. Practice Body Scan Relaxation: similar to the progressive muscle relaxation exercise from part 1, this tool is useful for noticing tension and releasing it while also connecting your brain with your body. Lie on your back or sit comfortably in a chair, focusing your attention slowly to each part of your body, in order from your head to your toe (or vice versa). Notice the emotions, pressure, or thoughts associated with each part of your body as you scan from top to toe. Take deep breaths while you scan and imagine yourself pushing the extra tension out through your toes and fingers.
3. Observe Your Thoughts: while sitting or lying down in a comfortable position, take deep belly breaths and begin to focus on letting go of the tension in your body; notice your breathing, your body, and last your thoughts. Identify the thoughts, but resist labeling them or passing judgment. Simply imagine them floating away on a cloud in the sky, or drifting along like a leaf in the river. If you feel your mind wandering and following a particular thought, gently guide your attention back to observing the thoughts with renewed curiosity.