With all of the stress and uncertainty in the world today, there has never been a better time to learn about or practice mindfulness. John Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic, defines mindfulness as “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” Sounds pretty simple, right? But it takes practice. The great thing about mindfulness is that it is always available. You can practice anywhere!
You can practice while brushing your teeth, washing the dishes, or taking a walk. Through mindfulness practices, we can learn to acknowledge our thoughts and feelings without getting stuck. We can learn to focus on the here and now instead of ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.
So much has been written in the last several years about the benefits of practicing mindfulness in our increasingly busy and stressful world. Mindfulness is said to decrease stress, improve sleep, increase focus, and improve emotional reactivity and relationship satisfaction among others.
Where should you start with cultivating a mindfulness practice? Kabat-Zinn suggests 9 attitudes that should be incorporated into your mindfulness practice:
1. Beginner’s Mind - Be willing to see everything as if for the first time.
2. Non-Judging - Recognize judging thoughts, then keep going.
3. Patience - Accept that things will happen in their own time.
4. Trust - Trust your intuition and honor your own feelings.
5. Non-striving - Instead of focusing on results, see and accept things as they are.
6. Acceptance - Recognize that things are the way they are.
7. Letting Go - Acknowledge your feelings and let them go.
8. Generosity - Bring happiness to others by giving them your full attention.
9. Gratitude - Bring your attention to all the good in your life.
There are countless ways to incorporate mindfulness practices into your daily routine.
Here are just a few examples:
Six Daily Questions to Ask Yourself While Social Distancing
1. What am I grateful for today?
2. Who am I checking in on, or connecting with, today?
3. What expectations of “normal” am I letting go of today?
4. How am I getting outside today?
5. How am I moving my body today?
6. What beauty am I creating, cultivating, or inviting today
Mindful Parenting Quick Tips
○ Notice your own feelings when you’re in conflict with your child.
○ Learn to pause before responding in anger
○ Listen carefully to a child’s viewpoint even when disagreeing with it.
Apps and Websites with Mindfulness Meditations and Resources:
Meditation Apps for Pandemic Anxiety: Calm, Headspace, Weightless
Other Mindfulness and meditation apps: Aura, Breethe, Buddhify, iMindfulness, Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris, Mindfulness Daily
Mindful Parenting by Kristen Race, PhD
Sara LeBlanc is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Before joining the Episcopal community in 2010 as the Lower School Counselor, she was a school based therapist with the Capital Area Human Services District.