Buzzwords like “mindfulness” always elicit my automatic eye-rolling response. You want me to sit still and meditate? Yeah, right.
If you’re like me, you probably find the idea of meditation to be wasteful. Time is precious, and who wants to spend theirs sitting around meditating when they could be working on other, more important things?
But mindfulness is important, perhaps just as much as those “other things.” Research shows mindfulness practices promote physical health, facilitate healing responses, and promote overall life well-being. Better yet, it doesn’t have to mean sitting around chanting, “om.”
Most of us could benefit from an enhanced ability to control your focus, and that’s exactly what mindfulness is. Kabat-Zinn (1994) defines mindfulness as non-judgmental awareness in the present moment. Though some people choose to engage in more intense practice, like meditation, most of us can incorporate mindfulness into our everyday lives by simply...well, thinking about our thinking. Here’s how:
· Notice your judgmental thinking. Challenge yourself to count how many times a day you define something as “good” or “bad.” On the next day see if you can notice even more times that you make snap judgments. These judgments can affect our overall attitude to how we interact with others – positively and negatively.
· Try an “I notice” statement. Instead of passing judgment, simply make observations: “I notice the weather is colder than usual.”
· Separate yourself from your thoughts. Sometimes, it’s easy to fall into the trap of negative thinking. When this happens, we can start to believe our thoughts: “I will never run fast. I am too fat.” Try responding to these thoughts calmly: “oh, there’s that old habit of judgmental thinking again.”
· Detach. Imagine yourself standing on a stage. What do you notice about yourself? Now, imagine that you are someone sitting in the theater, watching you. What do you notice about that person on stage? Play with the different vantage points throughout your daily interactions with others: What are you seeing? How might this be different from what others are seeing?
Apply these mindfulness practices in your day-to-day life, an you may see benefits in your athletic performance as well. Mindfulness has been linked with optimal performance and greater enjoyment of sport. Further, if you are injured, mindfulness practices can help you rehabilitate and return to training faster.
Give mindfulness a chance – no “om” necessary.