Yesterday, I held a free Mindfulness workshop at the local library. I wanted to share strategies that participants could use on a daily basis.
You see, until fairly recently, I falsely equated mindfulness with long sessions of yoga and meditation. While those activities are definitely good for developing mindfulness, it's an unfortunate myth that you need to set aside large chunks of time to be more present. I appreciate yoga and meditation, but I don't prioritize those activities. I have had much better results incorporating short, daily mindfulness practices and I wanted to share that with other busy people. I know several people wanted to come to the workshop but couldn't make it, so I'm summarizing the strategies here. You're welcome.
Mindfulness Strategy #1: Find an Anchor An anchor is a lovely metaphor. Just as an anchor on a ship keeps it from straying too far from its location, an anchor for your mind can keep you from straying too far from the present moment. If you find yourself going down rabbit holes of thought or feeling undesired emotions, an anchor can reel you back in. Some example anchors include:
Mindfulness Strategy #3: Thought Download For verbal and visual people, this can be a helpful exercise. The concept is very simple: Take five minutes to write down ALL of your thoughts surrounding a certain issue (your in-laws visiting, a project that is stressing you out, a difficult conversation, etc) or feeling (anxiety, stress, sadness). Do not censor or judge, just let it flow. This alone can be enough to allow you to move on. However, it can also be a springboard to many other in-depth activities such as recognizing facts versus assumptions, seeing/understanding your thought process, and beginning to take those hurtful or unproductive thoughts and changing them to something new. A life coach can be very supportive of this process. (Hint, hint.)
Mindfulness Strategy #4: Feel the Feels This can be challenging, but it is sooooo good for you if you can put the time in to practice. When you are feeling an undesirable emotion such as anxiety or fear or stress, you often don't realize that those emotions are not signs of actual danger. In fact, any time you are in actual danger, you aren't sitting there feeling anxiety...you are running or fighting or surviving. So anxiety (or any emotion) is simply a set of sensations in your body in reaction to your thoughts. If you can accept it and allow yourself to feel it, you can let go of it more easily than if you ignore it, quash it, or fight it. Try these 4 steps to help demystify and therefore free yourself from some emotions that aren't serving you.
Hopefully you can find a strategy or two in that list that resonates with you. Try them all and report back to let me know which ones were the most effective.