We’re hearing a lot about Mindfulness Meditation lately. Now I know that some of you are brushing it off as the latest wellness trend that requires a big investment of your time and money. Who has time to set out on a quest for zen-hood, anyway? Others of you are wondering just what the hoopla’s all about. So what’s behind this mindfulness craze? Quite simply, it’s about learning how to focus your attention on something deliberately and then observing it without judging it as good or bad. You can do it for extended periods of time or in short bursts, like while walking to the bathroom at work or when you’re trying to get dinner ready with children hanging all over you. Now I know some of you naysayers are thinking, “Yeah, right!!” But stick with me for a second. While it may seem impossible, it’s really quite easy and with a little practice, you can start to notice how it lightens your load a bit. It can help you get some emotional distance from stuff that would typically drive you nuts. With a little know-how and a bit of practice, you can actually start to reclaim a sense of control over the stuff you can’t control. I love the moments in therapy sessions when a client starts to experience the power that mindfulness offers. Last week I had a client who described racing through the airport and starting to freak because she thought she might miss her connecting flight. Mid freak, she was able to step back a tad and realize that the world wouldn’t come to an end because she missed a flight. Now that’s power! #mindfulness #ReThinkAnxiety #JustTellMeWhatToDo #mindfulmess
Want to Try It Out?
Here’s a sample mindfulness meditation for walking outdoors. Try it out and let us know what you think. You can practice it anywhere, but I encourage you to find a quiet place outdoors like in a yard, on a hiking trail, in the mountains, or along a creek. Choose a place where the path is fairly smooth and not too steep. Taking a tumble is a sure fire way to lose the moment.
Before you begin, stand still. Take a minute to quiet yourself. Look around and really notice what you see. Could you describe it in detail to a friend? Then take an easy breath in and set a personal intention for this time that you’ve set apart for yourself. (That’s psychobabble, for silently saying to yourself what you want to get out of the exercise).
Then begin walking:
- Slow down and concentrate on your steps. Hold your body straight forward and carry yourself with calm confidence.
- Study each step as if you had landed on earth from another planet and had no idea what the earth would feel like. Which part of your foot lands first? Is the weight evenly distributed throughout the foot? Locate the exact place in your foot when the down step becomes the up-step. Is each step as heavy as the one before it? Do this with each step. There is no right or wrong way, just pay attention with open curiosity.
- Think about the imprint that each foot makes on the ground. Imagine that you are leaving a part of you behind with each step, as if it’s a permanent trace of your essence in this world. Imagine that those who follow you will absorb what you leave through the soles of their feet. If you are peaceful, you will leave peace. If you are joyful, you will leave joy. And if you are grateful, you’ll leave gratitude. Start with one well-intentioned step. Then take another. And another. Notice how long you are able to focus on your steps. If your mind wanders – and it will, patiently and without judging yourself, return your attention to to your steps. You might silently repeat a word with each step that names what you are imprinting on the world, like “Joy-joy-joy-joy”. And as you do, picture joy flowing through your body and out the soles of your feet with each step.
- Whenever you are ready to close your mindful meditation practice, do so deliberately. Stop walking. Look around once more. Breathe in all the good you can. Then step back into your day, moving as you normally would. Imagine bringing a revitalized heart with you. One that’s full of peace, joy, and gratitude.