Just about everything bad for us in life can easily, sneakily become habitual. Routine. Automatic. I’m not sure why doing good things for ourselves is difficult to establish as habit, but it seems to be.
In that vein, let’s discuss using mindfulness to reduce stress and anxiety. So far in our blogs, we’ve talked about using mindfulness to calm ourselves during very short sessions, five to ten minutes.
Let’s discuss today what 25 minutes can do, if those 25-minute sessions become a fixture in our lives. This will take a bit of self-discipline, but like all good things, benefits don’t appear without actually doing the work!
First, a little structure: I suggest if you’re new to using mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR), using the 5 to 10 minute techniques we’ve studied daily, while picking a single day in your week to take the plunge for 25 minutes.
It’s tougher than it sounds! However, 25 minutes of mindfulness can take place anywhere. Unlike meditation, you don’t have to ensure a tranquil place. You can become mindful in any situation, even in a chaotic office or home setting.
You draw your consciousness down to your own body: that core of deep, controlled breathing at your center, the sensations of your immediate environment, the touch of the air on your skin, your clothing moving against you, the feel anything in your hands, the ebb and flow of sounds, all the sensations of your immediate environment.
Thoughts, emotions rise up and are gently acknowledged without judgment, without letting negative thoughts knock you out of your mindful state.
Mindfulness requires that we step back a bit—yes that does sound contradictory, but in the process of paying mind to what we’re thinking and feeling in the present moment, stepping back a bit allows us to observe everything that’s going on without getting the tunnel vision so often a part of our “doing” state (more about that next blog!).
Getting distance from ourselves is in no way any form of suppression of ourselves. We’ll talk more about distance in a later blog.
We must make mindfulness a habit. We can do it at any time, but in the beginning, picking one time, perhaps one situation, can be very useful in establishing our routine.
The time you have to practice mindfulness is based entirely on your own schedule, but even though it might seem rigid, sketch out a 25 minute period to focus on what you’re doing, how you’re feeling, and what’s going on with you in the present now.