Mindfulness in Action
Mindfulness in Action
By Debby Lightman Casher of Mindfulnice.com
Mindfulness is a very powerful tool that I consider to be a life-skill AND a superpower. Allow me to explain..
We hear a lot about mindfulness and its benefits for our health & well-being. And, yes – it feels good to practice; It increases feelings of happiness, compassion, empathy, and kindness. It boosts creativity and our ability to have more control over our emotions. And, it allows us to manage our levels of anxiety & stress in a healthier manner. What we don’t often hear about, however, is one of the most powerful benefits of mindfulness, which I like to call “Mindfulness In Action”.
Mindfulness in Action is the ‘why’ behind the practice and all the ways our practice fall perfectly into place during the real life moments that matter most. It’s the practice that lies somewhere deeper, below the surface. It is the hidden reason for practicing. It sharpens us for life’s most unexpected moments. Mindfulness practices literally reshape and retrain our brains to think differently. We’re able to think more clearly and make better decisions when we practice mindfulness.
So, what does Mindfulness In Action really look like?
Well, recently I was met with a situation that was unexpected, confusing, threatening, and unsettling. The details of the scenario aren’t really important here, but what is important is how my mindfulness practice sprung into action. It didn’t even occur to me until later, but I realized it was very much my mindfulness practice that kept me safe in a critical moment that required quick-thinking, decision-making, and a sense of calm & control.
This unsettling event occurred at a very early morning hour, usually while I’m still asleep in bed. But, on this particular morning – I was up and out of the house by 5:00 am. My body & mind were tired, but in that critical moment – my mind felt sharp and clear. Quick observations were made. My mindful awareness absorbed every bit of information and I was able to process it in a helpful way. My thinking was quick. But, I remained calm. And most importantly, I was able to trust myself & make decisions in that instant that kept me (& my son) safe.
Mindfulness doesn’t make difficult, stressful things disappear. But, it does help you to handle stressful situations in a better, more helpful way, for your mind and your body. Human life-experiences result in real human emotions, whether you practice mindfulness or not. It’s important to recognize that, be aware of that, and have acceptance for that. Without a mindfulness practice, the effects of stress can stay with you and can build over time. They can begin to feel very confusing, frustrating, and ultimately take control of your mind. With mindfulness, however, you can begin to be an observer of your feelings and bring awareness to the sensations and feelings you experience and understand them better. You can even reframe them so that they bring you out of the story in your head and set you right back into the present moment.
The impact of my experience that day, stayed with me all day…but, the one predominant thing that changed the outcome of my day, was my mindfulness practice. I realized that mindfulness had been with me all along. It definitely was with me and helped me in those early-morning moments, but it was also with me throughout the day. This is Mindfulness in Action.
My mind immediately became flooded with a barrage of “what if” scenarios, because even though I have a mindfulness practice and even though I make intentions to stay in the present moment, I’m still human & I sometimes get off track, because – well, it’s normal to get off track. Part of the practice is noticing when you get off track and then returning to the present moment. It would have been very easy for me to get caught up in every “What if this…and, What if that…” thought that popped into my mind. But rather than allowing myself to go down that never-ending rabbit hole of what-if stories (which would ultimately only cause terrible anxiety), I mindfully became aware of each thought and how it made me feel.
Every time I noticed myself automatically playing out a “what if” scenario in my mind, I became aware that my heart started to race and I began to feel fearful. In that instant, I changed my vocabulary. For every “what if” statement, I reframed the statement to “what is”. I reminded myself that the “what if” story didn’t happen & won’t happen, but the “what IS” reality is much more important. What IS happening is that I’m safe and my son is safe. Just this simple awareness & reframing exercise helped me to stay in the present moment and remain calm and out of the made-up stories in my mind and saved me from a lot of anxiety.
Our brains really have an infinite supply of ‘what if’ scenarios, so without mindful awareness, it would be very easy to get carried away by these thoughts and remain in a stressful state for long periods of time. This is where mindfulness in action comes into play.
*Every time you practice a mindfulness exercise or meditate, you are training you brain for real life moments like these. It is with you when you least expect it, but need it the most.*
When you practice mindfulness, you may set intentions for your day and some of those intentions will be lost throughout the day. You will still fall into old patterns and that’s ok, have compassion for yourself, and know that with an established mindfulness practice, you now have awareness, too. It is this awareness that brings you back to the present moment. It helps you to understand yourself and contributes to navigating circumstances (even very difficult & unsettling ones) affectively.
If you don’t have a mindfulness practice and would like to begin one, just know that regularity carries a lot of power. So, try to do something mindful every day. It doesn’t matter what it is, but as long as it’s something – maybe that means just paying attention to your breath as much as possible or noticing something in your surroundings that you may never have noticed before. Try sitting in silence for one minute, paying attention to the sensations you feel in your body and the thoughts in your mind. Or, you can start by simply expressing gratitude for What IS and know that your mindfulness superpower is always with you.
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