Finding mindfulness for self-care
From the minute I wake up in the morning my mind starts racing; what do I need to do today, what things have I missed doing yesterday and now need to do today, reading the world news, and the world condition just seems to worsen, feed the dogs, clean the paddock, grocery store, and on and on it goes. This all takes it toll on my ability to take that first step in the morning and to find a space to be that does not require my mind and my body to race around seemingly in circles. I reach to coffee, then another cup, a good stimulant to awaken the brain. But that’s not the answer because now my brain is going even faster, racing along with my heart to decide what to do first. And sometimes that means sitting in this turmoil doing absolutely nothing, stuck in the endless cycle of thinking.
Mindfulness as a practice of self care
A simple way toward inner peace, a way to turn down the noise, stop the circles of thought, is to find our space in the moment. Some people call this mindfulness; being mindful of the present moment. Here’s a practice that can help you find mindfulness, regardless of where you are or what you are doing. This can take only a minute, or as long as you like, yet it all starts with simply practicing listening to your breath.
- Start by observing your breathing. Listen to your breath, feel where it is going in your body, sense the air moving in and out as you simply breath. Focus. If a thought comes by (and it will) let it go and go back to observing your breath. Sounds simple, and it can be with practice. So close your eyes if you like, and focus on this luscious feeling of life-giving breath moving in, and out, for just 3 refreshing deep breaths. Rest in the feeling of relaxation it has given you.
- As you practice observing your breath, you will notice thoughts intrude taking you away from your focus on your breathing. When this happens, label your breath. Give your breath meaning. Simply recite IN as you inhale, OUT as you exhale. Deep, yet comfortable inhales, IN, long soft exhales, OUT. Notice how thoughts have difficulty intruding when you are labeling your breath. You are actively pushing the thoughts away as they arrive so that you can focus on your breathing. This step effectively trains your mind, setting down new neural pathways for finding inner peace. It is a practice that can be taken anywhere, no tools necessary but for your awareness on observing and labeling your breath.
- The final step is accepting. Being aware of these thoughts, even as we push them away allows us to begin accepting our thoughts for what they are. Ever present imaginings coming from our amazing, almost magical organ, our brain. We learn by accepting that they will be with us for as long as we live. We accept them, and through mindfulness practice, we let them in and allow them to pass on through, breathing them in, exhaling them out, like clouds in the sky gently gliding along with the gentle nudging of a soft breeze.
Enjoy this practice of self-care, and remember it is a practice that can be with you wherever and whenever you find yourself in need of turning off the thought.