I started practicing a 20-minute meditation right after my coffee is ready every morning. In fact, using the app DailyCalm.com, I have completed (as of today) 412 consecutive mornings. I highly recommend you give this a try.
In our crazy-busy world, most of us don’t take the time to slow down and acknowledge our surroundings, how we feel, what we’re really thinking, or even what we are doing. We are always looking to the future or ruminating about the past. What we are missing out on is the present – what is going on our mind, bodies and environment right now in this present moment. In other words, we aren’t being mindful.
The dictionary defines 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, used as a therapeutic technique.”
Mindfulness is a way to help us through some of our most difficult times and put a bit of perspective into how and why we are reacting a certain way at a certain time, acknowledging those thoughts and feelings without judgment, and moving on.
The key to mindfulness is simple: pay attention. That may sound easy to do, but in reality it takes a bit of practice. We have to retrain our bodies and minds to slow down and take in the moment.
A primary tool for practicing mindfulness is do short meditations. Here are some simple steps to start practicing basic mediation today:
- Find a quiet and comfortable place. Sit in a chair or on the floor with your head, neck, and back straight but not stiff.
- Clear your mind of random thoughts. Try to put aside all thoughts of the past and the future and stay in the present.
- Become aware of your breathing. Focus on the sensation of air moving in and out of your body. Feel the rise and fall of your stomach as the air enters your nose and leaves your mouth. Notice how each breath is different.
- Embrace and release each thought. Don’t suppress or ignore any thoughts that go through your mind. You may start to experience strong emotions or have a desire to linger with a particular thought. Don’t linger – just note them, remain calm and keep on breathing.
- Sit for a minute or two longer. As the time comes to a close, sit for a minute or two, becoming aware of where you are. Get up gradually.
Practice this exercise a few times a day. You’ll be amazed at how much you will start to notice what’s going on around you and become more present today.
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