Building off last week’s post, 5+ Reasons Mindfulness Matters, here are five ways that mindfulness practices support us, to mind how we address stress.
1. Reconnect with the body.
The feeling of the breath and sensations in the body hold a lot of wisdom. Our gut feelings literally can be signals of what’s happening inside. Alert! Stress level orange! Or, yes! That’s it! Training in mindfulness, we learn to acknowledge and understand the sensations and messages of the body.
2. Build concentration and focus.
If mindfulness is “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally,” (J. Kabat-Zinn), part of what we are doing is building concentration and focus. This level of paying attention helps us respond appropriately to whatever happens, however we find ourselves. Through the fuzziness of overwhelm, clarity and insight emerge.
3. See what’s true right now.
In the present moment, what is true? Not that difficult conversation from yesterday. Not that project for later today. In the present moment of mindfulness, there can be more spaciousness to see what’s actually here. Now. Like the bumper sticker says: “I’d Rather Be Here Now”….
4. Experience change.
Everything changes. That’s just true. Sometimes that’s a relief and sometimes it’s part of grief. But that saying “This Too Shall Pass” can be a very useful reminder in the midst of challenging events and states of mind.
5. Step outside the story.
With mindfulness, we gain more flexibility. We can learn to experience fully sensations, emotions, and thoughts without reacting to them. I might feel irritable, or joyful, or both, and I allow myself to really feel those emotions. At the same time, I’m not as easily captivated by them. I don’t get so wound up in the reasons why — or a fixed idea of myself as irritable, or joyful.