Practicing mindfulness can help us stay in the moment and avoid impulsive decision-making.
Mindfulness is one of the most talked about practices in changing our experience with everyday life. But what does this really mean?
Mindfulness basically can be boiled down to “intentional” thinking. Intentional thinking is when we purposely think a thought as opposed to noticing whatever is on our minds. Intentionally choosing to notice what is going on right in front of us with all our focus and senses instead of wandering around the thought matrix that is constantly running amok in our heads.
Why is mindfulness important in personal growth and in mastering our life experience? Because it teaches us to be more attuned to what is really happening around us in the moment, which in turn can help us to realize opportunities that might be otherwise missed, experience life more wholeheartedly and with more pleasure, as well as avoid impulsive decision-making or reacting off of our thinking.
To have a direct experience of mindfulness, try the following exercise:
Go to your kitchen sink and turn on the water
Let the water get to a nice warm temperature that you find pleasing to have in contact with your hands.
Grab a dirty dish — if your sink is clean just pull out a plate or a mug and some soap
Intentionally engage four of your senses (hear, feel, see, smell) in the experience of washing that plate or mug
Notice how the water sounds when its running or when hits the dish
Notice the smell of the soap
Notice the bubbles and how they appear and go down the drain
Notice where the water goes in the sink – drops, puddles, pools, streams
Notice and feel the warm water on your hands
Notice your hands washing the dish and the movement of your body
Notice how you are standing – posture, feet positioning, hips…
Hear the sounds
Feel the water and the dish
Hear whatever other sounds are going on around you
Notice what is also happening in the room
Notice what happens when you have finished – how you are moving the plate, your body
Notice the quiet when you turn off the water
THIS is mindfulness — the idea is that you just intentionally checked into the reality of the moment and experienced it wholeheartedly.
Now that you understand how to do mindfulness, notice how much of your day is spent inside your “matrix” and how much of your day is spent fully in the reality of the moment.
How many of us drive from one place to the next completely absorbed in our heads instead of in the experience that we are supposed to be intentionally having while driving?
Practicing mindfulness helps us to be more engaged in reality and be more aware of our life’s true experience. Embrace the practice and watch your life grow into a more “intentional” experience.
The idea is to practice mindfulness in your everyday living as much as possible – it can be especially be helpful during stressful moments at work, school, or when it comes to interpersonal relationships.
Mindfulness book recommendation: Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Lori Gordon-Michaeli, LCSW, of Farmington Hills, owns Journey Within LLC Behavioral Health Services in Southfield, MI. (www.jwithin.com). She earned her master’s in social work at the University of Michigan. In her practice, she uses various methods including EMDR, CBT, DBT, TRT, art and journaling. She made aliyah to Israel at age 18 and lived there until age 42. She studied at Haifa University and is is fluent in Hebrew. As a world traveler, she has a global view and a background in world religions and diversity.