By: Caitlyn McKey

Have you ever found yourself walking into a room and completely forgetting why you went there in the first place?  Or maybe you lost your keys, only to find them in the freezer.  How about driving home and completely blanking on what the journey looked like?  Don’t worry, you’re not losing your mind.  In fact, most people I know experience this on a daily basis.  Now there might be some of you sitting there thinking, “How can I fix this?”  Or maybe you’re wondering what you can do to avoid being unaware.  The simple answer is to start practicing mindfulness.

What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is slowing down, paying attention on purpose, taking your awareness and bringing it to the present moment, bringing awareness to what is happening in the mind and the body, and bringing awareness to your surroundings.  When practicing mindfulness, it is important to be non-judgmental, compassionate, to have patience, trust, acceptance, and to be non-striving.  There is absolutely no rush in mindfulness. 

How can you start practicing mindfulness?
Just like yoga practice, or practicing a sport, it’s best to practice mindfulness on a daily basis.  Think of mindfulness as a workout for your mind.  However, unlike yoga or sports, it doesn’t have to take an hour out of your day and you won’t have to go to any fancy building and pay someone to teach you how to practice.  This is something you can do in a matter of 30 seconds to an hour.  Really practicing mindfulness can take however long you desire.  I recommend starting off slowly.  Like with any new endeavor, start with the basics.

Mindfulness Practice: Body Scanning
One of my favorite ways to practice mindfulness is through body scanning.  This is a mental practice, and only requires a chair or laying down on a comfortable surface.  If this is your first time trying this out, I recommend going to a quiet space to better focus your attention.  Once you are in position, close your eyes and begin to focus your attention on your breath.  Focus on the small area between your nostrils where you can feel your breath coming in and out.  Do this for a few breaths.  Feel gravity pulling on your body.  Begin to focus on the crown of your head.  Notice if there is any tension that you are carrying there and release it.  Move lower to your ears and give them a wiggle, notice how your body responds to this.  Furthering down to your neck and shoulders.  Again, notice if you are holding any tension there.  Give them a tight shrug, then release the tension.  Slowly bring your attention to your chest.  Feel how it rises and falls as you breathe in and out.  Next, bring your attention to your hands and slowly give your fingers a wiggle noticing all of the little muscles in your hand.  Following along to your toes having the same awareness.  Finally, take a deep breath in and upon releasing your breath slowly begin to open your eyes and smile. Congratulations! You’ve just completed a mindful moment!

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