Four Ways to Cultivate Mindfulness

Mindfulness can be cultivated. These are detailed tactics to achieve it.

Grounding

Grounding is this idea that we’re just coming back into our body. So often we are just in our heads. When we’re on autopilot, we’re not really in our body, but we are either lost in the past or thinking about the future.

Grounding is any activity that brings us back into the body in this moment. The way to do that is to just start at your feet. Do it so you can feel the contact that your feet are having with the floor. You can do that when you’re sitting or when you’re walking. It’s very simple.

You can also look around and orient yourself in the room. Instead of being lost in thought, releasing yourself and asking, “What am I seeing right now?”

Sit quietly and focus on sound. Use all of your senses.

If you want to do a little bit more, of a formal grounding practice, you would feel your feet on the floor and then recognizer what else your body has contact with, like the parts of the chair that you’re sitting on: the legs, the back, etc. Then you can focus on your breath. Notice what your hands are doing.

And you can do this right where you are without anybody noticing.

The STOP acronym

Another tool is the STOP acronym. S: Stop, T: Take a breath, O: Observe your experience, your thoughts and emotions, and P: Proceed in a way that feels right to you.

You might use STOP in a situation that is difficult or challenging for you. Or use it when you notice really strong thoughts or emotions coming in. It’s just a way to check in with yourself, give yourself a bit of space and proceed in a way that feels right.

Anchor phrase

Another thing you can do at any time during the when you feel tense, of if you feel you need a little bit more support, is to choose a word or a sentence that has meaning to you and helps you feel supported. Or maybe it makes you feel a bit more compassionate to yourself. It may be something like:

  • “May I be safe.”
  • “This, too, shall pass.”
  • “It will be ok.”
  • “I can remain calm.”

It is like having a best friend with you, saying that to you so you can get through a hard moment.

The Three P’s

Every doorway is a moment for you to Pause; Present (become fully present in the situation; then Proceed. No matter where you’re going with the business of the day, The Three P’s allow you to bring all of yourself into the room and focus your attention.

Mindfulness is not complicated, and you can do it. Take five or 10 minutes out of every day to focus, especially on the breath. And use the tools above to get you through your day. It won’t take very much time, but you will begin to feel it makes a huge difference in how you feel.

Source: Veterans Health Administration

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