Young Hawaiian mom doing yoga outdoors by lake.

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.

Closeup of unrecognizable woman doing dishes with lots of dirty plates and pots waiting aside. She's cleaning a black non stick cooking pan.
via iStock

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.

Woman driving car at sunny.
via iStock

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.  

 

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1 COMMENT

  1. Thank u for sharing this info with us. I started meditating 6 months ago and this is at the core of my practice. It’s really challenging but I’m told that my mind will often wander and not to judge my experience and that just showing up daily is the important thing.

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