Mindfulness: Lose the Stress and Find the Calm

Stress getting to you?

How many times have you found yourself thinking, “That (blank) is so annoying! Could it/they just stop?”

It might be a colleague speaking too loudly, a teenager playing music and thumping  hands and feet to the beat, a person who won’t stop complaining, or someone who talks non-stop when you’re looking for a little peace and quiet.

It has happened to all of us, but what’s your typical reaction? More importantly, do you know the signs of your growing frustration? Have you paid attention to how your body feels or where your thoughts begin to take you?

This is actually not as obvious as one might think. But the truth of the matter is that very few people take the time to realize how their bodies are reacting to upset, stress, frustrations, or anger. And even fewer have actual strategies to keep those knee-jerk reactions at bay, and avoid the flood of negativity that’s coming their way.

Establish a practice

Before you are put in that situation again, try these simple steps. Implementing some very simple strategies can help you avoid the upsets and turmoil of life’s little irritants. Even better, if you begin practicing these steps now, they will be become more effective by the time the next upset comes rolling your way.

  • If you can find a quiet spot, that would be helpful, but if it’s not possible, then do your best with what you have.
  • Close your eyes, or simply look downward; this is a solo adventure for you.
  • Take a deep breath and notice where you feel the air coming in your body and flowing out of your body. Do not change the pace or depth of your breathing; just focus on anything associated with your breathing. How does it feel? Do you feel inhales and exhales in your chest or stomach? Does the air flow more smoothly through one nostril than another? Just focus on your breathing and notice as much as you can.
  • While you are focusing on breathing, something might happen to slip into your thoughts. The people or noises around you? Something that happened yesterday, or something you’re anticipating? Acknowledge that the thoughts are there, and then go back to your breathing. It isn’t necessary for you to make a judgment about whatever that thought is; just notice it (“Hmmm, I’m thinking about my plans for this weekend.”) and go right back to focusing on your breath (“Back to breathing, breathing, in…out…in…out…”).
    • Some people like to count each inhale and exhale. If you realize you have lost track of the count, or don’t even know how you got to the current count, just start over. No judgments. No upsets. No big deal.
    • Also, some people prefer to focus on mindfulness of sound. To do this, listen and name each sound you hear without becoming involved with whatever it is. (a song, a door closing, people talking, laughter, feet walking, car going past, someone turning the pages of a newspaper, a dog barking…) Just list each sound.
    • If you are only able to focus like this for a few minutes, you will still find benefit from even that small amount of time. If you’re able to focus for as long as twenty minutes, you will soon notice amazing results.

Strategies in place…You’re set!

Mindfulness meditation is not a fad; it is a practice. Like any sport or instrument, the more you practice, the better you will be, and the more rewards you will find coming your way. Establish your own mindfulness practice. In the Dallas area, my next sessions begin in August.

Hope to see you there!

Dr. W

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