Practice Mindfulness for Better Quality of Life

Have you ever sat down with your significant other at the end of the day and asked how their day was going on - Or stood in your 1SG’s formation - only to realize halfway through you’ve heard nothing that was said? Been driving and nearly had an accident or missed a turn because you were focused on your daily task list or replaying a disagreement you just had with friend? Been reading an article, then stop and realize you have no idea what you just read? Not been able to fall asleep because of a big test or briefing the next day?

Mindfulness practice is a very effective tactical, in-the-moment and long-term strategy for coping with counter-productive thoughts, uncomfortable emotions, and even chronic pain.

What is Mindfulness?

  • Mindfulness is the ability to fully experience the present moment, and more specifically, accept one’s feelings and thoughts as a normal part of our daily experience
  • Mindfulness is about shifting from:
  •    - Evaluating thoughts/emotions and trying to change the thoughts and emotions we judge as "bad"
       - Accepting that we will have thoughts and emotions that feel uncomfortable, noticing them, and re-directing our attention back to the present moment

How to cultivate mindfulness:

  • Build self-awareness to notice when you are NOT mentally in the present moment.
    • - Research suggests that our mind wanders (we think about something other than what we’re doing up) almost half of our day! In other words, when you are brushing your teeth in the morning, you are thinking about the e-mail you need to send.

  • When you notice your mind is wandering, re-direct your attention back to the present moment
  • Three simple techniques to try:.
    • - Thought Log: When you notice your mind is wandering, write down the thoughts that keep you from staying present focused. You’ll get better at noticing when your mind is wandering (or certain topics you tend to wander on)
      - Body Scan: deliberately checking in with your body. Where is there tension? Where are you able to release tension? How shallow or deep are your breaths?
      - 3x3 Grounding Technique: – name three things you can see, hear, and feel. This will force your mind to shift your awareness and immerse yourself in the present moment.

Jon Kabat-Zinn says that cultivating mindfulness is simple, but not easy. You may find that your mind is constantly being hijacked by anxiety about the future, especially during a crisis. Be patient with yourself as you begin your mindfulness practice. Start your practice now, take a moment to notice your breath, scan your body, and be where your feet are.


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