Does the past really stay in the past? It should, but sometimes it wreaks havoc on the present instead. I do my very best to shift my focus, to shake those negative thoughts about the past—yet I always come up short. And more often than not, I start to worry about the future too… how those past mistakes or shortcomings could negatively affect my life path. In either regard, I fail to focus on what’s really important: the here and now. Fortunately, I’ve finally found a technique that guarantees I live in the present. And that’s mindful meditation.
Mindfulness: A Simple Form of Meditation
Mindfulness is a simple strategy, which brings you back to your center and the present moment. It’s all about focusing on the right now: where you are, who you’re with, what you’re doing, and how you’re feeling. Not only can it free you from your past, but it can relieve you of your worries for the future. And the best part about it? You can practice mindfulness just about anywhere! Dr. Sal Raichbach, a licensed clinical social worker at Ambrosia Treatment Center further explains the convenience and benefits of mindfulness:
“Practicing mindfulness is something you can do almost anywhere, all that you need is a quiet place and a little bit of time. The goal is to center your thoughts and remain in the present. Our fast-paced lifestyle can get us caught up in future or dwelling in past mistakes, which is both counter-productive and stressful. Using mindfulness meditation techniques, we can bring ourselves back to the moment we are in. This is especially useful when work, school, or life throws you more than you can handle. Just a few minutes of mindful meditation can help you refocus, divide, and conquer whatever life throws at you.
This form of meditation doesn’t need to be on the floor with legs crossed and hands out. It is perfectly fine to get comfortable at your desk—let your brain do what it wants to, but guide your thoughts toward where you are and what you’re experiencing now. It takes practice, but it pays off in dividends.”
Practice Mindfulness in 12 Easy Steps
You can practice mindfulness right here, right now—whether that’s at home, at work, in the morning, at night, or even in the middle of the day. In whichever case, you can perform the following 5-minute mindful exercise, which will help you to “reduce stress and get in touch with whatever is taking place inside,” as guided by Licensed Counselor Dr. Gabriel Constans:
Step 1: Gently close the eyes, sit comfortably, and relax the hands.
Step 2: Notice the air surrounding the body, and touching the skin—the face, neck, head, hands, and arms.
Step 3: Be aware of the breath, as air enters and leaves the body.
Step 4: Bring attention to the bottom of the feet, where they are being touched, making contact with the socks, shoes, or the ground. Feel the weight of the feet. If there is any tightness, or tension in the feet, let them relax.
Step 5: Now, bring awareness to the bottom—at the point where it is making contact with fabric. Notice the weight and pressure. If there is any tightness or tension in the bottom, let it be.
Step 6: Move attention to the hands. What are they touching? Feel the point where they are making contact with another part of the body, clothing, or object. If there is any tension or tightness in the hands, let them relax.
Step 7: Next, bring awareness to the lips and the place where the bottom lip is touching the top lip. If there is any tightness or tension in the lips, or around the mouth, let it be.
Step 8: Shift attention to the eyes, at the exact spot where the upper lid touches the bottom lid. If there is any tension or tightness with or around the eyes, relax.
Step 9: Be aware of the points of contact for the bottom of the feet, the butt, the hands, the lips, and the eyelids. If there is any tension or tightness, let it be. Relax.
Step 10: Return to the breath, as air enters and leaves the body.
Step 11: Feel the air surrounding the body and touching the skin: the face, neck, head, hands, and arms.
Step 12: Gently open the eyes.