Do you ever catch yourself in a negative thought pattern?
Do you notice disparaging thoughts or worrying about things that haven’t happened?
I wish my friends would call me.
Why doesn’t my spouse appreciate me more?
I have so much to do today. I’ll never get caught up.
Why is there so much freaking laundry?!?
While training is a fantastic coping mechanism for reducing stress and relieving anxiety, it can’t fix all your problems.
You need to take care of your mind as much as you take care of your body.
A mindfulness practice can catch those negative thoughts when they occur and encourage a more positive mindset.
What Is This Mindfulness Thing, Anyway?
These thoughts may seem harmless on the surface, but when you get entangled in them, it can be toxic and self-destructive.
The best way to pause these thoughts before they get out of control is with mindfulness.
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, creator of the widely-used Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction therapy (MBSR):
“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, nonjudgmentally.”
Mindfulness is a practice of self-awareness and paying attention to the workings of your own mind. It helps you understand the causes and triggers of negative thinking, so you can proactively stop the negative thoughts before they start.
So How Do I Start?
You don’t need to sequester yourself on a mountaintop, burn incense, and twist your legs into a pretzel to practice mindfulness. It’s as simple as sitting in a quiet place and reflecting on your thoughts.
Try this mindfulness exercise:
- Find a quiet place to sit and take 3 deep breaths. You can keep your eyes open or have them closed.
- Imagine you’re sitting in a room and watching your thoughts enter through one door and pass through another. Notice your thoughts but leave out any judgment of “good”, “bad”, or “I should/shouldn’t”.
- Write down your observations and reflect on them. What did you notice? How did you feel? And where did those thoughts come from? Noticing your thoughts “nonjudgmentally” is the piece that makes this mindful. When you attach any kind of label to those thoughts, then those thoughts have the power to tell you that you’re “less than” and “not enough”.
Many of our students begin their mindfulness practice with yoga, but you can try it simply by sitting quietly in your chair for 2-3 minutes throughout the day.