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Part Three: Practicing mindfulness in everyday life

Notice the beauty
Notice the beauty

Does the thought of meditating 20 – 40 minutes a day seem overwhelming to you? It does for most people, busy with their jobs and their families. Mindfulness practices don’t need to be an overwhelming and hard to achieve! Small changes help a lot.

The first step is to become aware of your emotions. Are they volatile? Are you angry much of the time? Do you feel stressed? Are you irritable and bored? Are you unhappy and critical? Do you want to feel differently? Do you want to feel more fulfilled? Take inventory, but this isn’t about judging yourself, just take note.

Then, check out how your body feels. Are you tense? If so, where is the tension? Is there tension in your jaw? In your shoulders? Your hands? Are the tiny muscles around your eyes always reaching outward and tense? How about your toes? Are your arms never fully extended? Is your chest curled in? Again, take inventory, but don’t judge yourself.

The easiest way to approach beginning mindfulness is to just notice how your emotions are and how your body is in the world. Practice self-observation without judgment. Just notice the emotions and body feelings. Feel yourself in your body and notice your way of being. Be kind to yourself.

Next, allow yourself to wonder about your emotions and your body tension. Are you interested in letting some of the tension go? Are you curious about where these feelings come from? Do the feelings actually come and go, in a cycle? Do strong feelings eventually pass and new feelings of peacefulness take their place? Practice noticing the feelings without judging or having strong negative reactions to what is. Practice noticing how your feelings cycle in and out; sometimes you’re angry, sometimes you’re having fun. Allow yourself to experience and notice that you have a full range of emotions. Allow yourself to become an observer of your life, and not get too wrapped up in one strong emotion or one singular event. Observe how many things that seem so important eventually pass and cycle around.

And then, practice mindful relaxation whenever you find a few moments in your day. Such as, when you are driving in your car. The perfect antidote to road rage is to drive mindfully, in the moment, without feeling a great urgency to get where you are going. Enjoy the experience of driving for what it is. The feel of the steering wheel under your hands, the kindness of some of the drivers, the intensity of other drivers. Strive to be a mindful, considerate driver and you will probably end up driving near those who are doing the same. To the extent that you can, while paying primary attention to your driving, listen to and enjoy music and enjoy the beauty of the landscape around you. Take it in when someone gives you a courtesy on the road, don’t hold onto only the annoying things that happen. Notice these and let them go.

Mindfulness teachers believe that developing the ability to notice what’s going on inside and around you, being present in the moment, and coming to a situation without judgments or preconditions is a way to more inner peace in daily life.

If you feel you need some help in feeling emotionally balanced, in my counseling practice in Wayne , and in my online work, I’m available to help you navigate your life issues and help you find a comfortable mix of mindful self-care and professional help. Please feel free to email or call me.

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