Our lives are full of internal and external stimuli that are fighting for our attention. It is this fighting that makes it difficult to achieve a state of awareness. There is traffic, lunch, schedule, kids, dogs, parents, fears, anxiety, depression, partners, deadlines, bills, health, loneliness and the list goes on. It is easy to judge and dread the list. We are not going to really talk about the list in this post but for now I will say that the list exists and it is not the work of mindfulness to make the list not exist.
Mindfulness can be described as a state of awareness of ourselves moment to moment without judgement. One of the skills we try to develop with a mindfulness practice is the ability to be aware and to stay in that state of awareness. When we are in a state of awareness, we get to use one of my favorite life tools – intention. Living with intention is the best way to live a life that has meaning to us. You develop your ability to access mindfulness through practice.
One of the mindfulness exercises I give my clients most often is the daily activity mindfulness exercise. There is something you do everyday. Brushing your teeth. Wash your hands. Wash your hair. Take a shower. Any of these activities are activities like them will work. I suggest it be something you do daily that is relatively simple and rote. I describe the daily activity you use as being your anchor or safety line.
We will use brushing teeth as our example. While you brush your teeth you are going to concentrate on brushing your teeth and only on brushing your teeth. You can look at the brush. What color is the brush? What does the toothpaste look like? What does the toothpaste taste like? What does the toothbrush feel like on your teeth, your gums, your tongue? Allow your mind to explore and notice anything about brushing your teeth.
While you are trying to keep your awareness on brushing your teeth, other thoughts will want to arise. You will wonder what you will wear that day or worry about that email you are dreading to send. It’s okay. Simply recognize the thought and return your attention to brushing your teeth. Don’t judge the thought. Don’t judge yourself for having the thought. Gently acknowledge and return your attention to brushing your teeth. Brushing your teeth is your anchor that helps you easily redirect your attention.
Spoiler, this is going to be so frustrating. You are going to get distracted over and over again. That is fine. It is not a test. It is a practice. It is about strengthening your ability but definitely not about perfecting it. We want to spend more and more of our time in a state of awareness because from that state of awareness oh the places we can go…