Honestly, being present is more difficult than it sounds.
We become so absorbed in our jobs, our relationships, and our work that we rarely have the time to check-in with ourselves. To really be in-tune with our minds and bodies is an art and a practice. But, there’s a little tool called “mindfulness” that has a lot to do with how we incorporate being present in the present.
Mindfulness is defined as the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. It’s the ability to focus one’s awareness on the present moment while simultaneously checking in with our thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations.
There’s no right or wrong way to practice mindfulness, but here are a few pointers to help you get begin.
Start the day right
How we start our day can really influence how the rest of the day plays out. Waking up with good thoughts is extremely powerful in the way that it shifts our mindset.
It’s the difference between “today is going to be terrible” vs. “today is going to be great.” Believing the day will be terrible before it even starts will have you anticipating and anxiously worrying about what could go wrong. You see the day in a gray, foggy lens and even the good moments don’t seem to shine as bright.
But, if you can shift your perspective even a little, and begin to believe that there will be at least one good thing will happen… maybe put some favorite inspirational words on sticky notes and post them on your bathroom mirror; those words will be the first thing you see in the morning. Having the right attitude forces you to be present and attentive to the good that surrounds us.
Set an intention
Setting an intention will also help you to maintain the right mindset throughout your day. What do you want for yourself today? What do you want to accomplish? How are you going to get there? What do you want to let go of? Focus on keeping your goals in mind.
Constantly affirm yourself during the process. Repeating phrases like “I am worthy, I am enough” is one of my go-to affirmations. What we might deem as pointless in the act of affirmations is actually what holds genuine value. A few words or a simple phrase reminds us to stick to what we intended for the day, rooting us in something true and forcing us back to a place of presence.
Take a pause
Take a break and complete a task that gives your mind a break and allows you to slow down. It can be anything from reading, journaling, listening to music, running or yoga. The main purpose is to unplug for a little bit. Engage in something that’s meaningful to you for about 30 minutes, and go without the distractions of your phone, TV, people, and all the other noise that can pollute quality “me” time.
Meditation is the perfect gateway to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness meditation is rooted in allowing us to become present with our surroundings and our thoughts. The goal is not to quiet the mind or achieve an eternal state of calmness. Rather, the goal is to sit, be cognizant of the present moment, and let thoughts and judgements come and go.
This is way easier said than done, I know. It’s going to be difficult at first because your mind might wander to what you’re going to eat for dinner or what homework assignment you have due the next day, etc.
Try this: sit in a comfortable position and just breathe. Let your random thoughts come and allow them to pass on. And breathe, breathe, breathe. The breath is what anchors you in the present.
With mental health check-ins coming up, it’s now more crucial than ever to pay attention to our body presence: what our body is trying to tell us at every moment of the day.
Taking care of your health should always be a top priority. Set aside some time to body scan. Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, breathe, and visualize each part of your body and the sensations you’re feeling. Start from the top of your head and work your way down. Really take time to listen to what your body is telling you.
The Mental Health Check-ins are Wednesday March 22 from 4-6 in the UC Forums. Please come take the time to get a check-in and engage in some much needed self-care.