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Mindfulness 101

Paying Attention for Beginners

Here's how YOU can get started with mindfulness in everyday, small ways!(Rather than trying to "get it" all at once. It took me months!)

What does Mindfulness mean?

In short: mindfulness means paying attention.

I want you all to experience the joys and benefits of mindfulness! It's not something many people really know about, and the internet likes to make things into "fads" and "quick fixes."

Here's the deal: You have to practice at mindfulness. It doesn't happen overnight, and it is not a way to achieve "happiness." Spoiler alert! There are SO many other emotions that are just as beautiful and helpful, and mindfulness, among other things, helps you discover the meta-joy in every emotion.

But using mindfulness to handle difficult emotions is advanced stuff. For now, we'll just talk about using it in everyday, small ways, to get the hang of it :)

My Story

My story with mindfulness began in my high school acting class. We would practice relaxing and paying attention to where any tension was and letting it go. But back then, I didn't know what that was!

I encountered it again, more actively, in college. I took the Wellness Orientation, which was one of the best decisions of my life, if not the best one. We learned how to recognize and love our emotions and to take a few minutes each day to just BE.

Basically, I ended up using mindfulness (and other techniques) to overcome post-traumatic stress disorder. Mindfulness really is that powerful, if you are willing to put the work in.

What can you do right now?

Just start paying attention. How do you do that? Look at things. Feel things like clothing textures, air temperature, the breeze, grass on your bare feet, how nice it is to fall asleep at night. Listen to that one song really loudly! See? It takes work to remember to pay attention, but the things you can pay attention to are awesome.

Here's the really important bit: While you're paying attention to something, other thoughts will float by like clouds in your mind. The trick is to let them keep on floating by. Send those little clouds on their way, and bring your attention back to whatever it is.

Love the clouds. But right now, you're paying attention to something else. Did you send the cloud on it's way and bring your attention back to the task at hand? Congrats! That's mindfulness.

It even works on the meta-level!

You can be aware of yourself using mindfulness, and once you're aware, you can gently remind yourself to pay attention. Whoa! Our simple checklist to follow will help you with concrete things to look for. Once you get the concept, it's really great to practice and share with others.

Remember, this is just the beginning. You can use mindfulness to get through tough emotions, and you can use it to organize your space, which is one of your end goals, I'm guessing! But for now, just remember to pay attention, and the rest will follow.

Mindfulness Checklist

Here are the top ten things you can pay attention to while you're learning about Mindfulness:

10. Listen to that one song really loudly!

Don’t do anything else; no multi-tasking. Just listen to the song, and live in the moment with it! What emotions do you feel? What do you love about this song? Play it again!

9. Go outside and look at the sky.

Yup. Literally just stand and look for at least two minutes. What color(s) is it? Sunrise, sunset? NO PICTURES. Just look :) Are you breathing? What’s the air temperature like?

8. Pet your pet.

Aww! They love you, and you love them. Aren’t they soft? Just pet them for a while. If any other thoughts come by, send them on their way and go back to petting your pet.

7. Stand in the shower and feel how nice and warm it is.

Why not? Just pay attention to the water.

6. Open a window and feel the breeze.

Is it a beautiful summer evening? A crisp fall day? Is there some rain? Love the beautiful air and breathe it in. Nice, huh? :)

5. Walk in your bare feet.

Not for all locations or seasons, but if you have a safe place to do so, walk around barefoot! What does the ground feel like? Is it pavement, rocks, sand, grass? Pay attention!

4. Exercise...

...and pay attention to your muscles and your emotions! Do you feel exhilarated? Are you letting out some energy? Do your legs/arms feel sore after? Is it a “good” sore, like you accomplished something? Awesome!

3. Practice full-body relaxation.

Do this before you fall asleep. Some YouTube vids can guide you! You don’t want to be holding on to the day’s tension while you’re resting. Start at your toes and individually relax each part of you. Feel any tension, and actively let it go. You’ll be sawing logs in no time.

2. Watch the clock for two minutes.

Just watch the hand go around. This is a PERFECT time to practice letting thoughts float by and bringing your attention back to the task at hand! You’ll be surprised how many thoughts cross your mind. That’s okay. Just go back to the clock. Just BE.

1. Take a deep breath.

Whenever you think of it. Just do it. It helps you gather your thoughts, helps with digestion, clearing your mind, resetting, falling asleep, waking up…trust me. Whenever you remember to, take a deep breath.

Read next: Monday 12/18/17
Savannah Grant
Savannah Grant

I believe in organization, emotional health/intelligence, and personal renewal. Organizing your space is a perfect way to start living a fuller, simpler life. Find emotional freedom and the benefits of less with these stories!

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Mindfulness 101
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Monday 12/18/17