Pause. Close your eyes or take a soft gaze. Seal your lips and breathe through your nose. Take 2-3 minutes to simply notice your breath coming in and out of your lungs. Guide your attention back to your breath as thoughts and distractions pop up. How do you feel?
According to some recent neuroscience studies, focused nasal breathing is a mindfulness tool that helps our automatic nervous system shift from our sympathetic nervous system (fight, flight, or freeze mode) to our parasympathetic nervous system (restoration or recovery mode). In other words, it’s healthy for our minds and bodies to pause our lives to take a few breaths. A mindful pause to notice your breath is a powerful tool that can be used throughout the day.
Mindful.org defines mindfulness as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” I think it’s important to add compassion to the definition as well. In my mind, I think of mindfulness as being fully engaged with what I’m doing with a sense of compassion and non-judgment. Mindful thinking and practices will hopefully improve both our work and our personal lives.
In addition to mindful breathing, take a few moments to pay attention to how you eat, walk, or take on any task. Mindfulness can be applied to all aspects of our day. One example, pay attention to how you eat. Slow down when you eat. Stop eating on the go. Chew thoroughly. Think about the source of your food. Where else can you apply this type of intentional thinking to your life?
Ideally, mindfulness leads us all to living intentional lives. We want to be able to handle the stress, trauma, and suffering of our work while living with joy. It’s a practice that takes time. Give yourself patience and grace as you explore these tools. I challenge you to find practices that work for you.
Resources to check out for Mindfulness.