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If you missed the first part of this post, pause and go read What is Intentional Mindfulness, and How Do You Practice It?
Intentional Mindfulness is really about using your 5 senses to engage in what’s around you.
These skills are always with you and can be used anywhere, and they’re often the key to calming your mind.
Whether it’s because you’re having a panic attack and need to feel grounded, or you’re feeling so angry that you want to explode, engaging your 5 senses will allow you to get out of your head and concentrate on your body.
My therapist’s suggestion was to start with a simple activity, like washing dishes. I dread hand-washing dishes, so I usually try to fly through it while watching TV, in an attempt to disengage from the actual activity. Instead, this is a prime opportunity to begin practicing our new skills.
Let’s engage our senses in the most mundane of activities:
What do you see and hear? What temperature is the water, and how does it feel running through the tap, then sitting in the sink? Notice the motion and textures as you wash a bowl. Feel the sponge and smell it (actually, don’t. Ick.). What color is the bowl? How does the floor feel under your feet?
As random thoughts begin to invade (and they will), don’t be critical or harsh. Politely acknowledge them, and let them go. This is a process, and you will not be perfect at it, so don’t rate yourself by the amount of time you can focus, or how many times your thoughts drift.
Every time that you practice being intentional (whether you view the attempt as successful or not) is positive momentum toward mindful living.
As you lay in bed tonight, and you begin to fidget under the covers trying to find a comfortable position, take a few seconds to notice yourself and your surroundings. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing.
How do the sheets feel? What sounds do you hear? Smell the lavender on your wrists from your insomnia-fighting bedtime blend in your nightstand. Gently tense every muscle in your body, starting at your toes and working your way up. Smile and release any intruding thoughts.
Begin using these skills in small ways as often as possible. Notice and engage when you can, and try to find joy and peace in the simplicity of everyday life. Breakaway from the multitasking, over-committing, and anxiety that the world says is normal.
And if you want to teach your kids about mindfulness and using their 5 senses, check out this super fun Edible Halloween Sensory Bin, featured in 15 Brilliant Ways to Deal with Leftover Halloween Candy. You can also visit one of my favorite mom bloggers, Tina Williamson, over at Mindfulmazing.
How can you intentional mindfulness a part of your daily life? Let me know in the comments below, and then check out this post with more self-care ideas!