The Coping Kete

Monthly Archives: January 2014

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No. 151: Mindful Moment

This week to attain, maintain or regain your sense of wellbeing…

… pause once a day to practice being mindful of the present moment and yourself inside it. Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment on purpose, without judgment and with full awareness of both the internal and the external parts of our experience. You can do this by purposefully observing the present moment, describing it to yourself and then participating in the experience.  In order to fully observe, describe and participate in the moment we need to focus on one thing at a time, take a non-judgmental stance and be effective. Being effective means choosing the direction that is most helpful or doing what needs to be done without being trapped in our emotions but without ignoring them either. This week practice taking the time to observe what is around you and what is inside you. You might need to set an alarm or decide on another reminder ahead of time to help you remember to practice. While you’re new at mindfulness, practice at a time when emotions aren’t running super high.

Once a day practice taking a mindful moment. Breathing calmly and moving into a comfortable position, focus your mind on the here and now…Noticing yourself there breathing and notice what is happening around you right now, observe your surroundings and describe them  to yourself without judgement. When you notice judgments, observe them, and return your mind to the present moment as you continue with your breathing. You can ground yourself in the present moment by paying attention to your five senses and participating in them with awareness. What do I see around me right now… what do I hear… what do I smell… what do I taste… what do I touch? Allow your thoughts and feelings to register and come back to your senses. Name thoughts as thoughts, memories as memories, feelings as feelings, separating the past from the present, acknowledging the things that are unwanted instead of pushing them away. Observe and describe any thoughts and worries about the past or future that arise, without evaluating them or chasing them and again turn your attention back to observing and describing the physical environment around you and how you experience it. Once you have observed the whole of your surroundings and what is going on inside in the moment, turn your attention to the next task at hand.

When you are comfortable paying attention to the present moment at an ordinary time, add ‘Mindful Moment’ to your Personal Coping Kete as a way of coping with stress and distress. When you notice emotions starting to run high, you will be able to pause, ground yourself in the present and observe my distressing thoughts and feelings without being so hooked or tangled by them. It will be easier to stay connected to the moment as part of a wider context and to choose what direction to move in next.

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Acknowledgement: Mindfulness can be traced back to buddhist philosophy. Thich Naht Hanh is known for creating the Engaged Buddhism movement  and popularising mindfulness in the Western world. Jon Kabbat-Zinn is known for popularising mindfulness in the medical community with the Mindfulness-Based Stress-Reduction (MBSR) programme at the University of Massachusetts. Marsha Linehan is known for popularising mindfulness in the mental health community with Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT).  The basic practice of mindfulness features in many strategies shared in The Coping Kete. Once you learn the basic skills, you can use mindfulness in any moment you find yourself in, in countless different ways. There is an awful lot behind each of the skills involved. Follow the links above to learn more.