The 4 Key Principles of Mindfulness
I recently came across an article written by Stephanie Catalano, a licensed clinical social worker. I liked this excellent, yet simple, explanation (and practice plan) of mindfulness and thought I’d share it with you.
She writes “Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present, aware of what's taking place, both internally and externally, and to allow the experience to be what it is without becoming consumed or overly reactive or overwhelmed by what's going on around us. This practice teaches people how to experience and enjoy life as it's happening rather than waiting for the "right moment" or watching life pass them by.”
Stephanie also developed a formula, referred to as “The Magic Four” to help with practicing mindfulness. Here are her four practices, condensed a bit for easy reading.
Awareness is to be focused on what is happening in the present moment, including body awareness, posture, and breathing. This principle allows the person to reflect and identify any barriers, blocks, or beliefs that are keeping them from living life in the present moment. Pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and responses. Pay attention to any tension in your body and release it as needed. When you find yourself drifting to the past or the future, notice where your attention is and refocus on what is happening in the present moment.
This can be accomplished by focusing on your senses in that moment. What do you hear, see, smell, taste, and feel? Let your senses be what guides you back to the present moment.
In order to experience life in the present moment, one must recognize what is in their control versus what is not. A lot of people spend a lot of time dwelling on people, places, and things that are outside of their control, as well as worrying about what's to come. All this does is interfere with the ability to be present. You can practice acceptance daily by recognizing when you're trying to control someone or something outside of you and surrendering to what's beyond your control. As you do this, you'll notice you will begin to feel better. As humans, we like to be in control.
We all know we can't change something once it has been done, nor can we predict how something will be, but we always have the power to choose how we respond and how we show up.
Accountability is taking ownership of something within one's power or control. It is to answer to your mistakes and own them without placing blame on another person, place, or thing. To be accountable is also to examine how you contribute to your experiences. You can begin to practice accountability by holding yourself responsible for what gets done, how you feel, and how you respond.
You can begin practicing action by creating routines that set you up for success and to feel good. The idea is to apply what you know, to eliminate procrastination, and to move forward with what it is you desire, whether it be making time for yoga, finding a new job, or having a heart-to-heart conversation that's been on your mind. The most important part is to fully understand that only you have the ability to take action toward what it is you want.
So, there it is. Excellent advice for a more mindful, and peaceful, life. Start practicing today.