While on vacation I tried an exercise that my therapist had urged me to embrace over a year ago, mindfulness. Mindfulness is defined as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
I have always been a person who was focused on the past or aspiring for what I could achieve in the future. Being in the present was always quite uncomfortable for me. Like standing on hot pavement or being in an embrace with a stranger for too long. Although being focused on the future has lead me to achieve a great many things, not being in the present robbed me of what was happening in the here and now.
While visiting the Pacific Northwest, I was in a great state of mind. I was accompanied by my family and I was determined to thoroughly enjoy the surroundings and all the experiences that we had planned.
After a trip to a massive bookstore, per the request of my daughter, we looked for a book in the anxiety section of the bookstore. We ended up purchasing the book The Yoga-CBT Workbook for Anxiety: Total Relief for Mind and Body (A New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook) by Julie Greiner-Ferris LICSW and Manjit Kaur Khalsa EdD. Combined with essential oils, each night we would complete several activities in the book and then end the session listening to a guided meditation. Not only was this a bonding time for us, it helped each of us calm our anxiety and become more focused on our body and our minds.
While hiking the greenest hikes I have ever hiked, I forced myself to be in the moment. I wanted to capture as many pictures as I could, so I would have clear memories of what I was experiencing. However, the act of taking pictures pulled me away from being in the forest, my smallness in comparison to all the aged trees, hearing the babbling creek and viewing the vastly flowing waterfalls. At a certain point each day, my camera and phone batteries died. This enabled me to just take in my environment. To be in the here and now. It was a blessing, although a little in disguise.
It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of every day. The routine of going to work, coming, home, spending time with family and then going to bed just to start it all over again, can be draining. The consistent influx of bills that need to be paid and perhaps not as much money as we would like left over at the end of every week. This is all quite stress inducing.
If we took just five minutes, maybe even ten if you can, to sit in a quiet place and focus on our breathing. To think of positive, encouraging thoughts. To disconnect from the world so we can connect with our inner selves, I think we would all have more peace in our lives. A book I would recommend is Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams & Danny Penman. It comes with guided meditations that are amazing. I purchased the book through Audible and feel like it is one of the best books I have purchased.