Mindfulness is hard – to remember to do
Lately, we often hear how helpful mindfulness can be for stress, pain, and our overall mental health, especially when we are living with chronic mental or physical illness. Practicing mindfulness might sound simple, but it can be hard to remember at times.
Here is a simple tool to help you remember to be mindful throughout our day, and that is to STOP. Stop, … Take a breath, … observe what is going on around you and inside of you, … and then proceed.
Remembering to STOP will allow you to respond to your environment instead of reacting to it. It’s about being there and being aware of what you are actually doing. Choose one thing each day that you often do without thinking.
S = Stop, T = Take a breath
This could be brushing your teeth, eating lunch, or walking. Pick just one activity to start. When the time comes to do this activity, do it mindfully; Remember to STOP. TAKE a breath. Allow yourself this breath.
O = Observe curiously
And continue, but pay attention to the activity or the act itself. OBSERVE it with curiosity. What is the experience like? This can be noticing what’s going on around you, or inside of you. Are there any emotions present? What body sensations do you notice? Maybe your breathing changes or you notice muscle tension.
It may help to focus on your senses – Your sense of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. Be curious about what you sense. Even if it is unpleasant, be kind and friendly towards what you notice. Open up.
Accept it as part of the experience, even if you don’t like it. There’s no right or wrong. Just noticing what’s happening in the moment. If you find yourself thinking of other things, notice that thought for a moment, and then come back to the task at hand.
P = Proceed with things.
Mindfulness takes practice. You are bound to get distracted. Just let any and all things that you notice be there. And now, proceed. Think of how best to care for yourself in this moment. And let this guide your decisions as you go into your day.
You can practice this type of mindfulness anytime, anywhere, and under any circumstance. Just STOP … take a breath … observe … and proceed.