These days, it seems that the common prescription to diminish stress and live in the moment is to cultivate mindfulness. With the growing popularity of apps like Headspace and Calm bringing guided meditation practices to the masses, now more than ever, we encourage everyone to get interested and curious about their modus operandi. How do you know if you are mindful? Can you improve living in the moment? Here’s a great way to cultivate a more aware presence.
First, ask yourself about what you feel is true:
- Do you notice the sensations of your moving body throughout the day?
- Are you able to find words to describe your emotional state?
- Do you criticize yourself for what you deem to be irrational feelings?
- Are you able to perceive feelings without reacting?
- Are you easily distracted? Do you find yourself worrying or daydreaming often?
- When doing something, are you able to stay in the moment? Like having a cup of coffee or taking a shower?
- Do you get lost in your feelings?
- Are you judgemental of your own thoughts?
- Do you pay attention to considerable details?
- Do you notice visual elements like lighting, nature, color and so on?
While far from comprehensive, this list is a great place to start when it comes to gauging how mindful you are. Not to worry if you struggle. Next, set aside time each day to work on being more present. For starters, we recommend the STOP program. This mindful program was developed by Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts. The acronym STOP stands for:
S: Stop what you are doing.
T: Take a deep breath and connect to your body.
O: Observe what is happening around you and within you. Take stock of your thoughts, feelings, and sounds.
P: Proceed and carry on with what you were doing before.
Setting a reminder to STOP throughout the day can help you get in touch with the more alert, alive, and present part of yourself and is an excellent way to begin a mindful routine.