There are many ways to actively practice mindfulness and reap the benefits of developing mindfulness. Some of the most basic strategies to cultivate mindfulness include being mindful of just one thing at a time, being nonjudgmental, being mindful of the present moment, focusing attention on your senses, and describing your experience. While these may sound like simple or vague tasks, mindfulness exercises are not always easy. Many people who have engaged in regular meditative practices for decades continue to report moments in which their minds wander away from the present moment or times when they become reactive rather than responsive. This is natural.

Mindfulness is continually developed and strengthened over time, much like an athlete regularly trains or a musician regularly practices. Mindfulness is no different in this way… just like athletes or musicians, experienced meditators do not reach a point when they say, “All done!” We are all works in progress and in order to maintain and sustain positive growth, we must be committed to ongoing self-awareness, evaluation, and practice. There is great danger in believing that one’s personal growth, education, or skill levels have reached the pinnacle. When one believes his or her work is done and growth is complete, there is room for metaphorical weeds to grow and backpedaling. Mindfulness exercises are anything but a task to be completed or a chore to be checked off a list… this attitude would be decidedly unmindful, since it implies disconnection from the present moment.

Mindfulness exercises can be practiced anytime, anyplace, and for any length of time. There is great freedom in developing your personal mindfulness practice. No matter how busy, fatigued, or challenged you feel in the present moment, you are still breathing… right? If you are breathing, you have the opportunity to practice mindfulness. Your breath is an anchor that you carry with you at all times. Simply bringing awareness to your breath and pausing to notice the feelings associated with taking slow deep breaths in and out is making the choice to engage in a simple mindfulness exercise.

How to Mindfully Sit with Anxiety

“Nothing so much prevents our being natural as the desire to seem so.” – François Duc de La Rochefoucauld If you want to deal with anxious feelings more effectively, it is quite helpful to begin to mindfully change your relationship with anxiety. When you learn to think about anxiety differently and respond to it in the…

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Mindfulness & Gratitude

“A noble person is mindful and thankful for the favors he receives from others.” – Buddha When you enter into a state of mindfulness, you make the choice to open your awareness to all aspects of your experience… positive, negative, and neutral.  You look at yourself, others, and the world with an open-eyed sense of…

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How to Practice “Everyday Mindfulness”

“Nothing is worth more than this day.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Mindfulness is “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally” (Kabat-Zinn, 1994, p. 4).  When we begin to make contact with the present moment using the tool of mindfulness, the world gradually begins to look and feel…

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Mindfulness Exercise: Relationship Expectations

“Relationship is a mirror in which you can see yourself.” – Krishnamurti Difficulties in relationships often arise as a result of mismatched or unrealistic expectations.  When we expect someone to behave in a certain way, we become attached to that expectation and become easily disappointed or frustrated if they do not act as expected. Expectations are…

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12 Steps to Becoming Less Fearful of Emotions

“Feelings are much like waves, we can’t stop them from coming but we can choose which one to surf.” – Jonatan Mårtensson When emotions seem overwhelming or painful, it is a natural response to want to avoid these emotions as much as possible.  After all, who would “want” to feel angry, sad, or anxious?  The paradox…

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How to Develop Mindfulness

“Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think. Suffering follows an evil thought as the wheels of a cart follow the oxen that draws it.” – Buddha The choice to live a mindfulness-based life does not happen overnight, nor does it come “easily.”  Like all skills, mindfulness requires practice.  The rationale…

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