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Please close your eyes and focus on one sound you hear.
Open your eyes and look around the room and focus on one item. What color is that item? Think about other things that are that same color.
Take three deep breaths and repeat the mantra below.
I am present. Present am I. (Yoda would be proud).
Great job! You just completed a mindfulness exercise.
Do you ever feel like you are going through life on autopilot? Not really present in the moment, but there all the same. Today I was thinking about how often I read words on a page but don’t really think about the words on the page. My mind is everywhere but in the moment. It is making lists of things to do, things I haven’t done, things that pop up out of nowhere like ads on a computer and those sneaky memories of old I would rather forget. As I have gotten older, I find myself re-reading sentences more often than not. I would like to think it is because my brain is so full of knowledge that I can’t fit anymore in there but, I know deep down it is because I am not being mindful. My mind wonders about all the things I need to do, the bills that need to be paid, the strange sound my fridge has been making, the pile of laundry that keeps multiplying, the bag of celery sadly wilting in the veggie drawer…I could go on and on but, I am pretty sure you have your own mind-lists. The lists your brain makes that often keep you from being present.
A full mind is not the same as being mindful. Life happens pretty fast around us and in order to keep up we often have to go “into the zone” to get things done that need to get done. We do what we have to do, and it works. The flipside of this is we are often not fully present in our own lives.
So, what is being mindful anyway and why is it important?
Being mindful is focusing your attention on the present. A real-time awareness of your sensations, thoughts and feelings. For instance, in this moment I can feel the keys of the keyboard beneath my fingers as I type. I can hear the clicking of the keys. I can see the letters and words as they appear on the screen. I am present as I focus on writing this blog.
I recently read an article entitled, Five Ways Mindfulness Meditation Is Good for Your Health by Jill Suttie.
According to the article, research shows the body can benefit both physically and mentally from being mindful. One of the main take-aways from the article is, our thoughts affect our health. Too many mind-lists can hinder our brain’s ability to relax and recharge thus keeping our “fight or flight” response on GO. Whereas a mindful mindset can help ground us during stressful or overwhelming experiences.
Let’s face it. If you Google mindfulness or being present you will get a gazillion results. The great thing about being present and being mindful is it that you have everything you need to start within yourself. You don’t have to buy a fancy mat to sit on or light a special scented candle. If you want to use those things that is absolutely fine but, please know it doesn’t cost anything to be present. You just have to decide to do it and find whatever techniques help you be present and approach life’s situations with curiosity instead of judgement.
Have you ever heard of belly breathing? This is the practice of taking deep breaths all the way in from your belly and filling your lungs completely before exhaling. This a wonderful exercise to practice with the entire family. A way to find some calm during those big emotions.
Another great technique is the Berry Challenge. This activity is a great reminder during our hectic lives to taste our food while eating. You can substitute any food item you wish for the activity and it is a great mindful activity for all of the family.
Taking just a few minutes every day to be mindful can help your body be the best it can be. I have decided to start some new mindfulness practices of my own by putting my mind-lists down on paper instead of carrying them around in my head. Below are some inspirational quotes about being mindful and links to some great mindfulness tools. Please remember you are a present to this world. You are the one and only you. Being present is a present to yourself and to those you love.
“Still, in parenting, what we thought and did yesterday that "worked out well" is not necessarily going to help today. We have to stay very much in the present moment to sense what might be required. And when our inner resources are depleted, it is helpful to have healthy ways to replenish them and restore ourselves.” - Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting By Myla Kabat-Zinn, Jon Kabat-Zinn
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” - Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
"Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most." - Buddha
“Life is a dance. Mindfulness is witnessing that dance.” -Amit Ray
“You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” - Jon Kabat-Zinn
“Be happy in the moment, that's enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” -Mother Theresa
"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” -Buddha
List of Free Mindfulness Apps - Mindful.org
Mindful Communications is a Public Benefit Corporation. We are dedicated to sharing the gifts of mindfulness through content, training, courses, and directories—helping people enjoy better health, foster more caring relationships, and cultivate a more compassionate society. We offer courses, corporate training, personal stories, news-you-can-use, practical advice, directories, and insights that speak to anyone from novice meditators looking for guidance to corporate managers exploring new ways to cultivate workplace engagement and fulfillment. Our audience learns from leaders in the field about effective techniques for mindful living, and the science that points to its benefits.
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Mindful Breathing Techniques Handout
30 Mindfulness Activities for Parents