WEEK NINE: Short Bursts of Mindfulness Can Blossom Benefits
My guru for mindfulness is Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Monk. When I was a stay-at-home mom, I read his book, Miracle of Mindfulness. It is a thin book and very easy to read. In it, he says that we should choose one day a week to be mindful. I could not do a whole day, but I could do six hours, while my daughter was in preschool. On my mindful day, I folded laundry by focusing on one article of clothing at a time, and saying, “I’m folding the towel. I’m hanging the shirt.” I cleaned the house mindfully. I did not speak with anyone during this time because Thich Nhat Hanh says it is hard for us to stay mindful while we are talking.
His promise was that as we focus one day on being mindful, it would change our brain and before long the calm and peace from that one day would leak into other days. I had an opportunity to put this to the test when my car died on the way to get on the highway to pick my daughter up from school. I pulled over, as luck would have it, right in front of a gas station. This was the time before everyone had a cell phone, and I used the pay phone to get someone to pick up my daughter and call a tow truck.
After making these critical calls, I sat down on the curb of the gas station and waited. I did not pace. I did not check my watch, I simply sat in the now moment until the truck arrived. I don’t know how long it really took them, maybe an hour or so, but to me it felt like 10 minutes, because I did not stress at all. I will never forget this experience.
IDEA: I invite you to try eating mindfully or walk mindfully today and during the coming week.
IDEA: If you want to do a household task mindfully, I invite you to do so. Sometimes saying what you are doing, calmly, can help keep your brain focused on the task instead of the many other things we could be thinking about.
This means you won’t get to make lists, or think about what you are going to say to someone, or what you need to get from the store. You will be completely in the now moment focused on one breath at a time and on what you are doing.
IDEA: If you are choosing to sit quietly for about 15-20 minutes, You can say, “Breathing In” as you breathe in and, “Breathing out” as you breathe out. Over time, your breathing will get very shallow and you won’t be able to get the whole phrase out. I invite you to say, “In, Out,” as you watch your breath.
We could have a whole separate challenge around how many different activities we can engage in mindfully. Just kidding. If you want to take this challenge on your own, have fun. The more mindfully you show up in life, the more fully you will be able to live each moment with yourself and with your child. Mindfulness helps us be fully present.
INTENTION: Choose what to be mindful about today and write it in your Self-Care Notebook.
EXERCISE: Do the mindfulness activity you chose today. Notice and write about how you feel during the exercise and following the exercise in your Gratitude Notebook before bed.
Here is our Amazon link to Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh. Click on the image to purchase.
SUMMARY of self-care routine. Please include writing in your Self Care Notebook in the morning and your Gratitude Notebook in the evening:
· When you get up in the morning, check-in with your body and ask, “What do you need from me today?” Listen and follow the guidance you receive.
· Notice 5 positive things happening in your day.
· If there is resistance to following through on focusing on you, write about it in your Self-Care Notebook and practice not beating yourself up about it.
· Drink 1/3 of your body weight in ounces of water per day.
· Scan for what you are doing to express self-love in your day.
· Pay attention to the foods you eat and how they make you feel.
· Add an aspect of quality sleep to your routine.
· Add healthy movement into your day.
· Add a mindfulness practice into your day.
EXERCISE: This is how resourced your Inner Well might be, if you have started more self-care. Draw a picture of your Inner Well at the bottom of the page in your Self-Care notebook. How full is your Inner Well now compared to the first day?