“I have deadlines to meet at work.”
“I need to help my child with their school project and then take them to sports practice.”
“I need to run errands.”
Do these sound familiar? Throughout our day, our minds wander to all the tasks we need to finish. It’s the way a lot of us are programmed to think. We overload ourselves with tons and tons of information. In our fast-paced society, it’s easy to feel like we’re always busy, and then at the end of the day, question ourselves as to what we even did.
Too many times our days become a blur by focusing on too many tasks at once. Terms like ‘multitasking’ and ‘busyness’ get thrown around like badges of honor, when in reality, there are studies that say it can be more beneficial to focus on one task rather than multiple.
I am guilty of this just as much as anyone else is. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking of what you should be doing or what you need to do. Too often, we think of the past and the future, but rarely in the present moment.
Last week, I was given the opportunity to help organize a training geared towards industry professionals that work with children in all different aspects and scopes of adolescence. One of our breakout sessions was centered on mindfulness. Dictionary.com defines mindfulness as the state or quality of being mindful or aware of something. A technique in which one focuses one’s full attention only on the present, experiencing thoughts, feelings, and sensations but not judging them.
The thing about mindfulness that captured my attention is the realization of paying full attention to the present. That means being involved mentally, physically, and emotionally in whatever you are doing at that moment. The amazing part about mindfulness is that it does not have to start at a certain age, and there is no experience necessary to begin. Mindfulness techniques are being brought into school systems throughout the country to grades as early as kindergarten. The goal of mindfulness in schools is to help students learn self-awareness, empathy, calmness, and focus.
You can bring mindfulness into your everyday life too. Here are a few mindfulness practices according to mindful.org.
For more tips on mindfulness, be sure to check their website.
1 – Mindful Wakeup: Start with a Purpose
- Take three long, deep, nourishing breaths – breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Then let your breath settle into its own rhythm, as you simply follow it in and out, noticing the rise and fall of your chest and belly as you breathe.
- Ask yourself: “What is my intention for today?” “What do I need to take better care of myself?”
2 – Mindful Eating: Enjoy Every Mouthful
- Breathe before eating. We often move from one task right to the other without pausing or taking a breath. By pausing, we slow down and allow for a more calm transition to our meals.
- Eat according to your hunger.
- If you don’t love it, don’t eat it.
3 – Mindful Pause: Rewire Your Brain
- Trip over what you want to do. If you intend to do some yoga or to meditate, put your yoga mat or your meditation cushion in the middle of your floor so you can’t miss it as you walk by.
- Refresh your triggers regularly. Say you decide to use sticky notes to remind yourself of a new intention. That might work for about a week, but then your fast brain and old habits take over again. Try writing new notes to yourself; add variety or make them funny so they stick with you
4 – Mindful Driving: Drive Yourself Calm, Not Crazy
- First, take a deep breath.
- Ask yourself what you need. It may be in that moment that you need to feel safe, at ease or you just need some relief. Understanding what you need will bring balance.
- Give yourself what you need. If ease is what you need, you can scan your body for any tension (not a bad thing to do while driving in any case) and soften any tension or adjust your body as needed.
I encourage you to visit the Manassas Park Community Center and allow us to help you on your mindfulness journey. We offer hundreds of programs, and you’re bound to find one, or several, that you may find therapeutic and relaxing!
Tony Thomas is the Recreation Services Supervisor for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. He can be reached at 703-335-8872 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.