What does mindful living look like when you’re going through hard times?
What does mindful living look like when someone you love dies? Like my brother this past month…
What does it mean to be mindful, anyway?
Mindfulness, as I say to my clients, is using the amazing capacity of your mind to be mindful of what is arising in your body, heart, and mind.
Mindfulness is being mindful—sounds circular, doesn’t it. Hmm…
Mindful = using the fullness of my mind, the full capacity to attend, to give my attention to something.
- If am working and finding myself distracted, my capacity to be mindful is not being exercised.
- If I am multi-tasking—which researchers say is not possible for the brain—we’re just moving very quickly from task to task—I am most likely not being mindful.
- If I am wool-gathering, I am not being mindful.
- If I am on autopilot going over all the details of my brother’s untimely death again, I am not being mindful.
When you use the fullness of your mind to attend to your life, what does it look like?
Paying attention to what your senses are taking in is the easiest way to practice:
- Being outside and really sensing the quality of air on your skin—temperature, texture, movement…
- Sipping tea and taking in the aroma, the steam, the temperature, the taste, the texture…
- Hugging a loved one and feeling the touch and temperature of their body, taking in their particular scent, sensing their touch of you…
- Gazing at something and really seeing it—all the contours, details, colors, textures, etc.
This practice saves me when I get lost in sad thoughts about my brother. It brings me back to the moment, the life that is living in and around and through my senses and my bodysoul right now.
We can also place our full attention on what we are feeling and what we are thinking.
If I am mindful of what I am feeling, then I notice the sensation of the feeling, it’s location in my body, its intensity, its particular shape. I might even name it. As I grieve my brother: Constriction and collapsing in my chest. Grief. Confusion. Pain.
Being mindful of thoughts is a common form of meditation. In this case, it is especially helpful to find an anchor to return to when I start thinking, like my breath, or concentrating on my belly or the sensation of my feet on the ground. Establishing this anchor first, I then open my awareness to notice my thoughts instead of allowing them to think me.
I am mindful of what I am thinking, using the mind to attend to the mind. I might label the type of thoughts I am thinking in a practice called Noting: worrying, planning, perfecting, anticipating, judging, ruminating, conceptualizing, fantasizing, etc. I might also notice how they are affecting my body and heart.
In these last few weeks of processing my brother’s unexpected death, I have continually practiced returning to mindfulness. Allowing a wide range of feelings to wash over me—from grief to love, from confusion and pain to sweetness and happiness. I sense them, being mindful of how and where I experience them, not holding on to them, but letting them flow through. When the thoughts are looping, trying to make sense of it all, I notice them, sense them, label them, and return to my breath, to my belly, to my feet, and to other senses so that I can come back to the moment that is here. Sunlight, birdsong, aroma of wet earth, warmth of teacup, solid feet… From here, I am resourced. I am open. I am available to live my life as it unfolds with body, heart, and mind—mindfully.
How do you return to mindfulness?
This Fall I am offering a number of opportunities to practice mindfulness—I hope you will join me!
The Mindful Art of Tea, Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
Enjoy the ritual of tea as a vehicle for mindfulness practice. Read more.
Autumn Women’s Self-Care Mini-Retreat, Sunday, October 16th, 2016
Give yourself a chance to slow down and welcome the Autumn Season with yoga, meditation, journaling, and more in women’s community. Read more.
Choosing Happiness Habits Using the Enneagram, Mindfulness, and Play, 4-Part Series, starting October 18th, 2016
Learn how to access your innate happiness through experiential exercises, new awarenesses, and mindset shifts! Read more.
Healthy High Tea, TBD in November. 2016
Enjoy healthy food and mindful conversation in your mindful tea ritual! Watch my calendar.
Free Online “Practice Presence for Life Journey,” TBD in 2017
Join a community to make daily, simple choices to live a life of presence, one mindful choice at a time. Watch my calendar.
NEW: 1-off Holistic Life Coaching and Enneagram Sessions
Get some quick and practical support with ways to approach your life with an attitude of mindful practice. Contact Katy.