Am I Really Mindful?

As a psychologist I have taught mindfulness for many years and believed that I was mindful in my daily life. However, I recently had shoulder surgery (snowboarding may be the death of me!) and discovered how frequently I must have been multi-tasking. Only being able to use my non-dominate arm for several weeks made me more aware of my actions and only allowed me to do one thing at a time. When we are only engaging in one activity at a time, it is much easier to be more mindful of what we are doing. How often are you talking on the phone and responding to an email, or engaging in more than activity at once? When we are mindful we are aware of our surroundings, our physical sensations, our thoughts and feelings. Being mindful helps us to stay focused in the present and not worry about the past or the future. One way to help ourselves be more mindful is by engaging in only one activity at a time. Practice doing a simple task like putting away the dishes, or making your bed and focus just on doing that task. What seems different about it? What sensations, thoughts, feelings, or experiences did you have? Another way to practice mindfulness is to engage in simple chores using your non-dominate hand. An example might be, brushing your teeth with your non-dominate hand. When we do something simple and frequently, we tend to not stay focused on the activity. Have you ever driven home and then got home and couldn’t remember anything about what you saw or even remembered driving home? Don’t worry if you answered yes to this question. This happens because so many times when we are engaging in an activity we have done several times we tend to “zone out” or not pay attention. The way to help yourself stay more grounded and focused is to use mindfulness. Maybe try putting your windows down in your car and focusing on the sounds you hear or the smells. This can help you to stay more focused in your current experiences. Mindfulness techniques can help to reduce our anxiety, depression, and fears. If we are focused in the here and now it is more difficult, if not impossible to worry about the past or the future or all of the “what ifs”. It can allow us to more completely enjoy our experiences and be able to fully embrace our feelings. Practice being mindful when you are engaging in a pleasant experience. This may be taking a bubble bath, walking your dog, or eating dinner. Focus on your 5 senses, your physical sensations, label your thoughts and feelings as just a thought or just a feeling without judging or trying to hold on to them or push them away. Trusted Therapy, Inc Tonya McFarland, PsyD Licensed Clinical Psychologist 1030 Johnson Rd, # 323 Golden, CO 80401 303-709-5897