5 Steps to Practicing Mindfulness

Ever drive to work and think to yourself “how did I get here” or eaten an entire bag of chips (ugh) or got to work and asked if you shut the garage door? That is your brain on autopilot. Becoming more mindful of your actions, thoughts and words allows you to break the cycle of autopilot so you can make better decisions for your self. So what exactly is mindfulness? Harvard Health Publishing refers to it as “focusing your attention on what you are experiencing in the present moment without judging yourself”.

Why should you care about practicing mindfulness?
Beyond making better food choices when you’re stressed or bored, mindfulness can also help you achieve your goals. By focusing on the present moment, it keeps you from reacting too quickly and doing what you usually do when you get stressed — like grabbing a king-sized candy bar.

How do you know if you’re doing it right?
Just like so many things, it’s not about doing it right. Small steps are still steps. But here are some tips to help you head in the right direction:

  1. Pause and focus on your body. Notice what you see, hear, smell, taste and feel. Don’t label them as good or bad. Just notice them and then let them go.
  2. Then do a full body scan. Start with your head and move slowly to your toes. How does it feel? Is there an itch, tingling, cold, hot? Give each part of your body a full 1-2 seconds of focus.
  3. Next, be more intentional with your breath. Where do you feel something in your body? Focus your attention there and breathe through it – in through nose, out through the mouth.
  4. Ask yourself how you’re doing in the moment. Acknowledge your thoughts and emotions and spend a few moments with them without feeling judgment towards them.
  5. Find your mind wandering? That’s okay. Just bring your thoughts back to the present moment and breath.