Finding a sense of calm and present-moment awareness in a busy and vibrant city is no easy feat. Chaotic routines and overstimulation are inevitable obstacles, thus inviting the need to be thoughtful about finding time for self-care. Mindfulness doesn’t require an hour-long formal meditation practice each day. Jon Kabat Zinn, founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, defines mindfulness as, “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience.”
We can invite mindful awareness to each experience we have, moment by moment. The benefits of mindfulness, including decreased stress and anxiety, improved emotional regulation, and increased focus and flexibility, are strengthened by practicing mindfulness regularly. Finding consistent opportunities to practice mindfulness also allows you to better employ these practices in moments of frustration, anxiety, or stress.
When it comes to integrating mindfulness into your self-care practice, I often encourage my clients to start with the routines they already have established. Have a long subway commute in the morning? Try listening to a guided meditation practice (Stop Breathe & Think and Headspace are two helpful apps that offer a variety of 3-5 minute meditation practices). Find yourself having downtime in the evening? Establish a nighttime breathing practice. Research suggests that a few minutes of mindfulness practices each day can greatly improve one's health and wellbeing.
A moment of attunement to your internal experience might also include checking in with your emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations at any given moment. Try closing your eyes and noticing your breath exactly as it is. Are you able to identify any feelings that come up for you right now? Try to greet those feelings with non-judgement and acceptance. You might also try asking yourself where in your body you feel those feelings. What are the sensations are you experiencing? Gently bring your attention back to your breath. Notice if it has changed.
Like all self-care practices, mindfulness is about progress rather than mastery. Intentionality around mindful awareness should feel supportive, grounding and ever-evolving. The beauty of mindfulness lies in its accessibility: we can practice it at any time, in any moment.
Hannah Sherman is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you are looking for support in finding solutions to enhance your overall wellness, contact Cobb Psychotherapy by calling 718-260-6042 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, and see how therapy can help.