Mindfulness, Attention, and Choice
Mindfulness, Attention, and Choice
Mindfulness: paying attention to the present moment non-judgmentally, as often as you can.
Simple but difficult – and why would I want to do this anyway, you ask? The simple answer: choice. The more practice we have at noticing what is happening both around and within us, the better we are able to notice when we are swept up in emotions, or in patterns that have very little to do with what is in front of us. This means we have more choice in how to respond, how to act. Choice means control over ourselves and freedom from old patterns. Below are a few examples of ways to build more mindfulness (and therefore choice) into your day.
- The next time you make coffee or tea, gently invite your mind to put aside it’s ‘to do’ list, or its worries of yesterday and tomorrow and refocus on the process and experience in front of you. Move through each of the five senses – notice the color of the coffee grounds, tea leaves, the color of your mug; notice the sound of the drip of the coffee, the clink of the spoon as you stir the tea; notice the smell of the brewing coffee, the scent of the herbs of the tea – see if you can identify each herb; notice the feel of the mug in your hands, that it gets lighter the more you drink; notice the warmth as you take each drink; notice more fully the taste as you drink – notice if you like the taste as much as you remember, notice if you like it more, or maybe you notice you drink it only for the comfort or the caffeine.
- The next time you do laundry, notice the colors of each garment; notice how the texture of each is different or similar; notice the sound of the washing machine as it cleans the garments; notice the smell of them as you pull them warm from the dryer.
- If you have a pet, the next time your pet seeks you out for attention take a minute to really attend to your pet – notice their color and the way they look at you, notice if their fur is long or short, soft or course, notice the sound of their purr or the thwack their tail makes against the chair, notice if they smell snuggly or ready for a bath, then notice how you feel after spending that moment just being with your pet.
- Before you respond to texts, allow yourself to pause for at least a minute. Use the minute to take a breath, to notice your thoughts, to notice any tension (or lack of) in your body, to notice what kind of response was your first impulse. Take another breath – then notice if that’s still how you want to respond.
- To start your day with your attention in the present and on something pleasant, put on your favorite song, use your favorite lotion, say a prayer or read your favorite poem. Notice if your mind wonders (which it most likely will), and gently bring it back. Notice the feel of your voice as you sing along, the scent of the lotion, attend to the meaning of the words in the prayer, notice what images come into your mind with the words of the poem. Take a breath and notice what it feels like to focus your attention on something pleasant rather than your ‘to do’ list.
Chandra Reber MA, LPCC
A Book to further you on your journey
Coming to our senses by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Free Smartphone Apps
Mind Shift – for mindfulness, anxiety and coping
Zenify – mindfulness
Lotus Bud Mindfulness Bell – gentle reminders through the day to bring mindfulness into the moment
Meditation Timer – when you are engaging in a formal practice so you don’t have to be trying to watch the clock or set a jarring alarm
Breathe – mindfulness
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice. meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes. because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
— Jellaludin Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks