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Defining and Practicing Mindfulness

by | Feb 26, 2024

When we’re mindful, we can live in what is likely a safe present reality, rather than become trapped in catastrophic scenarios, a frantic pace of life, or unhealthy coping mechanisms. Many of us experience anxiety more than mindfulness, but we know it doesn’t have to be this way.

That’s the subject of Rethreading Lives episode 3 with Bethany Crawley, a mindfulness coach who believes that there is more to life and shares how we can enjoy it more fully.

What Is Mindfulness?

(3:40) Mindfulness is training our attention to occupy the same place as our bodies so we can experience the present moment. (20:48) If we think of our attention as a flashlight, we can train it to shine on what we see, think, and feel, rather than on our anxious thoughts. 

This is radical for many of us who have spent our whole lives focused on our thoughts, in a state of “presenteeism,” (6:52) or being present physically while our thoughts are elsewhere. But it’s possible to move into mindfulness, or a state of being where we actually experience our lives as we’re living them.

How do we practice mindfulness? 

In Bethany’s words, “the key to change is self-awareness” (14:55). To escape anxiety, we have to recognize it for what it is and then say “I don’t want to do this anymore.” Then, we can ask (8:13) “am I okay now? Am I safe now?” We don’t have to get lost in the anxiety, if we can acknowledge that we’re okay right this moment. 

We might start the practice of checking in with ourselves by color-coding our feelings. If we’re red, then we’re feeling a lot of disordered thoughts. Green, however, is a state of comfort and security. 

We could also consider rituals (53:16) like choosing a task (maybe brushing our teeth or doing the dishes) and focusing on being fully present. Or, we can go on walks and use our senses, noticing what’s around us instead of ruminating on our frantic thoughts. Or, like Kristin, we can set an alarm several times a day that asks, “where are your feet?” If we ground ourselves in the present moment, and our physical realities, then we can more fully enjoy them.

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