How Can I Practice Mindfulness?

It is recommended by most that mindfulness be integrated with meditation practices It is the belief of many practitioners (and of our group) that mindfulness should be practiced in combination with meditation because then it the practice is holistic and rooted in its historical origins  However, for those not quite ready to delve into the practice of meditation, mindfulness can still be a helpful tool.

If you are very new to mindfulness, it may make sense to start off with some “activities” to help you “feel” or “experience” interacting with your emotions. Most of these activities are related to awareness and presence. The famous example would be the raisin meditation. You can find some more suggestions here.

However, mindfulness is about much more than awareness. Mindfulness is a way of being that one has to continuously develop in their life. To help you see how integrate mindfulness into your everyday life, below are two situations.

Situation 1: You are having an argument with your significant other. The two of you are in a heated argument over something that is constant “hot button” issue. You are incredibly frustrated, angry, and ready to be spiteful.

How might mindfulness help in this situation?

Take a moment to stop and remove yourself from the situation (either mentally or physically). Try to identify all your feelings. Some of them might be easier to identify (such as anger) but some might be harder to determine (maybe you are also feeling betrayed? Unappreciated? Misunderstood?). Acknowledge and accept that you have these feelings. Allow yourself to feel these feelings and do not fight or react negatively to them. Once you have done this, reflect on the situation and think about how you can handle this argument that is not reactionary. Then, take the time communicate to your partner about your thoughts and feelings.

Situation 2: You are stressed out about final exams, your internships, and your responsibilities at home. You are having anxiety about the increasing workload and are not sure what to do.

How might mindfulness help in this situation?

Again, begin by identifying your feelings and thoughts. You are already aware that you are stressed and anxious. But perhaps you are also frustrated at yourself for being so stressed or for procrastinating? Maybe you feel pressured by others? Acknowledge and accept these emotions. Forgive yourself for feeling these emotions and accept them rather than reacting to them. Then, reflect on the situation and figure out how to handle it in a non-reactionary and positive way. Perhaps there is a way to minimize your stress through time management or getting tutoring or take time off your internship. Finally, act upon the decisions you have made.

There is of course no clear cut way to practice mindfulness and these are just examples. But it is important to note that in both situations, the hypothetical you is learning to be more compassionate and grounded by accepting your feelings and not reacting to them without reflection.

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