September 24, 2014
The Mindfulness Practice
Think about the last time you faced a stressful situation and how you handled it? For most of us, dealing with situations ranging from someone cutting you off on the highway or your boss coming in with a concern about your current project is destined to increase your stress hormones…and your emotional reaction.
Navigating difficult situations in real time is an important aspect of being resilient. Being able to focus on the moment when the stress is actually occurring and staying focused on what is unfolding before you without getting caught up with the emotions associated with it provides an eye in the hurricane that is swirling around you.
The skill associated with accomplishing that delicate balance is call mindfulness.
The practice of mindfulness is based on the idea that if we can enhance our skills in being able to observe what is going on in front of us before we respond to what is going on in front of us provides the opportunity to just observe and not react.
A perfect example of how we naturally are mindful is when we observe our young children. We rejoice in watching them enjoying the pure moment of their play or how their minds acquire and retain new ideas. What if we could use that power in not just happy situations but also in stressful situations?
While developing mindfulness can be a lifelong journey, we can start with a simple exercise and build from there.
Decide on just one activity that you will focus on to practice mindfulness. For example, consider how you sit in your chair.
- As you sit in the chair, notice whether you lower yourself down or do you just plop down?
- Do you use the arm rests to help you get down and when you get up?
- Notice any sounds that the chair makes as you sit in it?
- How does the padding feel on your bottom and does the back rest support your back adequately?
This little mindfulness exercise just take 10 seconds and you may make some simple discoveries about something you do several times a day but never pay attention to how you do it. As you learn to pay attention to the simple act of sitting, you may soon discover that paying attention to small actions helps you build resilience in your life.
© Richard Citrin, 2014]]>
My favorite tool for staying centered is to focus on my breath. In InterPlay, the improv system that I teach we say BIBO!to one another, to remind each other to breathe. Breathe In, Breathe Out. It inhibits the stress response.
This article brought to mind the word “ritual.” We have them in special settings where we slow down and go through practices that give some meaning to our lives, simply by the way we take the time and are “mindful” of each step of what we’re doing. I think Richard is right in that our lives can be enriched and more satisfying by being mindful or taking the time to make rituals of, to pay attention to little things that we do in our lives … like sitting or making the bed or gathering the sugar, lemon, cup and setting a place for our tea (as with the Japanese ceremony). In taking time and attending to some things that we do, we make those activities and our lives special. Hmmm. Must practice what I preach.