Mindfulness is the practice of focusing our attention on thoughts, words, actions, feelings, and experiences that we consciously choose to focus on. It is a peaceful counterbalance to both the reactivity and the “autopilot” way of being we so often experience in life. I enjoy using Loving Kindness phrases in my mindfulness practice, as they can be a powerful yet compassionate way to respond to other negative feelings that may be popping up.
Many people wonder if mindfulness is akin to prayer. I’ve never been into praying, but I did eventually discover that, for me, my Loving Kindness meditations are a form of prayer. Still, mindfulness leaves space for each person to decide that for themselves. It isn’t dogmatic, and knowing that gives the whole practice even more ease and gentleness.
Explore Gently, and Be Kind to Yourself
For me, looking deeper into my experience of spirituality as a Jewish person was made more comfortable by the flexibility and accessibility of mindfulness. I could be on the outside looking in at prayer, or I could be in it, experiencing it for myself in my own way. As you explore your own spiritual path, consider mindfulness as a tool that can support you in doing so gently, without judgment.
Here are a few mindfulness tips to get you started:
Try Mindfulness Meditation.
You can certainly practice mindfulness without meditating, but if meditation appeals to you, I invite you to give it a try. Start with five or ten minutes a day and go from there. The guided meditations on Insight Timer are a good starting point.
Practice Staying Grounded.
You can get grounded any time by focusing on the soles of your feet. Put your feet on the ground, then send your attention there. How do they feel? Are you in socks and shoes? Barefoot? Cold or warm? Moist or dry? The act of doing this breaks the discursive loop of thoughts and emotions. You can also ground yourself with a “here and now stone.” Feel it, look at it, notice everything about it. Focusing on the stone will break you out of unhelpful thought patterns.
Practice Being Mindful Outside.
There are huge health benefits to being in nature. While you are there, see if you can feel the temperature of the air, the breeze where it touches your skin. Notice any smells, and really look at the sights – leaves, flowers, etc. If you are walking, pay attention to how your feet feel hitting the ground, how your legs feel working, how your arms feel swinging at your sides. While you are noticing all these sensations, you are not ruminating.
Explore, and enjoy!