Imagine if life had a “pause” button. When you were tired, you could hit pause and then take a nap for as long as you’d like, then hit play. When you’re super busy, you could hit pause, get a bunch of stuff done, and then hit play. When you are sitting quietly doing something you enjoy, you could hit pause and stay there for as long as you like, only to hit play when you are ready to resume your day.
So, as you are probably aware, life does not have a pause button, at least not like the one suggested above. However, there are two “easy” ways to slow things down that can feel a bit like pausing life, even if it’s just for a little while.
These suggestions are things you have likely heard about and may be things that have caused you to roll your eyes. However, these things can work. They may not work the very first time you try, but when we are working with behavior change, nothing just happens. It takes rehearsal and practice, sometimes lots of it. Remember, it takes an average of sixty-six days to form a new habit. SIXTY-SIX. ON AVERAGE. That’s over two months of regular, consistent, hopefully daily repetition of the new behavior.
We live in a quick-fix society and unfortunately, true health and wellness, the kind that is natural and sustainable, takes time. It’s not as fast as taking a pill. It’s not as immediate as ingesting a drug. But it’s so, so worth it.
So here we go….
- One of the easiest ways to practice mindfulness is to use some sort of sensory input that you enjoy. For example, if you like water, try being totally present while doing the dishes. Listen to the sound of the plates clacking together. Hear the water come out of the faucet. Feel the soap under your fingers. Smell the fragrance of the soap. Or maybe the smell of what you had for dinner. Notice every single detail that you can. Do this for as long as you can. It may last for only a few seconds. And to that I say GOOD JOB! YOU DID IT! Now keep practicing.
- Often times when people begin to meditate, they try to “sit quietly focusing on breath” for twenty minutes. Or thirty minutes. Or a whole hour. Now that’s just crazy! First of all, that is simply way too long of a time to start with. If you were going to train for a marathon and had never run a day in your life, would you start off with a target of ten miles your first day? NO WAY! You’d totally hurt yourself and you’d never ever run again. So start small. And start with a guided mediation so that you have some help with what to focus on.
- Also, please know that the idea isn’t so much that you have no thoughts. The idea is that the thought comes in, you notice and honor it, and then you let it move on. Envision a leaf floating in a stream. You see it. You think, “Oh, that’s a pretty leaf.” And then you watch it float away.
So give it a try! Try to take a pause and see what happens and how things change if you take this pause every day for two months.
3. Exercise you enjoy