Have you ever watched a storm chaser show on tv? A storm such as a tornado has something called an “eye” which represents the middle of the storm. The eye is a center point where the wind does not reach, the opposite of its surrounding walls – sometimes a glimpse of sunlight can be seen despite the chaos that it brings on the outside.
One of the greatest joys in life is to find peace, with simplicity and calmness. Just like the tornado, life tends to become chaotic, destructive, and overwhelming at times, but learning how to bring back the peace, finding the eye in the storm, can become a key component to improving our mental health. Mindfulness meditation is a storm calming tool I often share with my clients, one that is evidence-based and provides the opportunity to lean in, become aware of our storms, and reach acceptance.
Mindfulness can be defined as a state of nonjudgmental awareness of what is happening in the present moment, including the awareness of thoughts, feelings, senses, and emotions. Some key components of mindfulness are
- Awareness: noticing your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations as they occur in the present moment. The goal is to embrace the storm – lean into the chaos and recognize its presence
- Acceptance: The thoughts, feelings, and sensations that are present should be observed in a nonjudgmental manner.
What does it mean to be nonjudgmental to our storms? Simply noticing and acknowledging the feeling, recognizing its existence. For example; if you feel a sense of nervousness during mindfulness, simply state to yourself: “I notice that I am feeling nervous” – there is no need to change the feeling or judge its presence.
Mindfulness practices work with a state of mind, not a particular action or exercise. Some mindfulness practices include:
- Mindfulness meditation: Identify a time and place to sit comfortably, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Once you focus, start noticing the physical sensations of the air coming in and out of your lungs, take a couple of deep breaths and feel it flow. If you find your mind wondering, turn to awareness and acceptance – but then turn your attention back to breathing. The aim is to bring calm, not solve the storm.
- Mindfulness walk: while you are walking whether it is on a sunny afternoon, or in a parking lot at a grocery store – start noticing how your body feels and moves with each step. Then, once you notice, expand your attention to your surroundings. What do you see? Hear? Feel? Smell? Become aware and accept any wandering thoughts – recognize them and stay in the present moment.
- Body Scan: This technique aims to allow your mind and your body to connect. Pay close attention to the sensations around you (i.e. the tornado walls) Start with your feet, recognize the sensations, move up through your legs, groin, abdomen, chest, back, shoulders, arms, hands, neck, and face. Spend anywhere from 10 – 15 minutes to 1 minute for each body part. Apply awareness and acceptance throughout the scan
- Five Senses: This tool aims to bring a conscious effort to notice our present moments through each sense. You will work on identifying 5 things you see, 4 things you feel, 3 things you hear, 1 thing you taste, 1 thing you smell. Spend time identifying the things you recognize throughout the activity – if your mind wonders – become aware and bring acceptance.
There are several resources out there specifically designed to educate you on mindfulness, applying it to daily living, and producing that calmness in times when the storm is stressful, destructive, and overwhelming. There are apps that work to cultivate a safe space for mindfulness, as well as several evidence-based research done to encourage the technique.
If you would like to speak with someone about how you can incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine, give Tx Harmony Counseling a call at (832) 352-1600 or contact us here.