Mindfulness meditation has been a kind of buzzword in the emotional-mental health field for over a decade.
But mindfulness meditation isn’t for everyone, and you shouldn’t feel bad if you’ve not been ‘mindful’ of the advice to be mindful!
Basically, “mindfulness” meditation means sitting and bringing your full attention to your breath or your body– without letting thoughts (like doubt, judgment) intrude.
Mindfulness practice–when used as a stress management or mental health tool, is about giving your mind a break from these intrusive, negative thoughts. And if you do it often enough you can start to become aware of how often throughout the day you bombard yourself with negative thoughts. When you become aware of this you can start to change your inner dialogue to be more loving and kinder to yourself–and in extension–to those around you.
But there are MANY ways to achieve this goal and mindfulness sitting meditation is just one of them. Here are some activities you can try.
Each example demonstrates shifting your focus from intrusive thoughts back to the activity itself.
Note the difference between these three examples; which do you think achieves the same goal as mindfulness sitting meditation?
When you wash the dishes:
Example 1: You’re washing the dishes after dinner and as you wash the dishes you focus your attention on the feel of the sponge on the plate. And the water running over your hands.
Example 2: You’re washing the dishes after dinner and as you wash the dishes you think about all the things that went wrong during your day and all the things left to do today that aren’t going to get done..and oh yeah, you left a grease spot on that dish–you just aren’t that great at doing dishes.
Example 3: You’re washing the dishes after dinner and as you wash the dishes you focus your attention on the feel of the sponge on the plate. And the water running over your hands. You notice that your nail polish is chipped…. take a slow breath…focus again on the soapy water…
Example 1 is an idealized version of non-judgmental awareness. Sometimes, if we are lucky, we can achieve moments like this.
Example 2 shows how we often go about our daily activities, not even realizing when we send ourselves negative messages.
Example 3 demonstrates how non-judgmental awareness really happens. The goal isn’t to NOT have intrusive thoughts. The goal is to notice them when they arise, and then shift focus back to your activity. It’s giving your “thinking” brain a break.
You can also:
- Listen to a guided meditation
- Do some yoga
- Do a breath slowing meditation
- Take a strenuous hike
- Have a dance party
- Use an adult coloring book
The stress management section of Parent Trust’s website has many more ideas. Check out our videos and other online tools >>