Cracking the mindfulness code

Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment nonjudgmentally.

15 years ago, I participated in a Mindfulness Stress-Based Management course.  The course was 8 weeks long and based on the book “Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabia-Zinn. 

Mindfulness is available every waking second.  I also enjoy meditation but it requires stillness of the body for a period of time.  Truthfully, it would be wonderful if I could spend time doing either for any second of the day.    

I have always believed that mindfulness required the full attention of my entire self.  That may be true.  I decided, however, that I can only be mindful with my brain and one other part of my body.  When I realized this, I felt like I cracked the code for integrating mindfulness into my life.

My "new" mindfulness practice is to pay attention to my hands.  Right now, I am feeling the smoothness of the computer keys on my fingers and noticing my palms rest on the computer.  I focus my mind on what comes to mind to write; not on completing this blog, worrying if people will like it, or how much time it is taking me to write.  When I focus on my hands, I leave the rest of my body alone; the tension in my shoulders, the scowl on my face, the sensation of my feet on the floor.  If I try to focus on my entire body, my inner critic takes over and I lose the “nonjudgmental” part of mindfulness.  

When I focus on my hands, I often find the rest of my body will relax as part of the mindfulness process.  When I notice what my hands are doing, my breathing slows down or I remember to stop holding my breath.  I will probably have to take up a separate practice later to work on my resting scowl.  

The other part of my mindfulness practice is to pay attention to my breathing when I am talking with someone on the phone or in person.  I feel anxious regardless if I’m talking with a friend or a client.  My stomach gets tense, my breathing is shallow, and I’m hypersensitive about my voice inflection and facial expression.

When I pay attention to my breathing, specifically to perform belly breathing, the rest of my body begins to relax.   Then, it is more comfortable to make eye contact and to slow down my speech.  I can also focus on the person I am talking with and not on what to say next.

I hope that as I perform “specific body part” mindfulness, the rest of my body will follow suit.  As simple as mindfulness appears to be, my busy mind has had a difficult time cracking the code.