by Kayla Morgan, MS, LPC
Summer can be a season of busyness from summer camps to vacations to children being home from school. Growing up, summer feels like a lifetime, but as an adult it feels like a flash and all of a sudden fall routines begin again (school, college football, high school sports, etc.). Our American culture teaches us to go nonstop and before we know it a year has passed and we wonder- “How did we get here?” We must be intentional to slow down and be mindful.
What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is awareness; it is being aware of your experiences in the moment. It’s being present in the moment you’re in and paying attention to your life as it’s happening. Not only should you be present, but be present without judgment of what you are experiencing and accepting who and where you are (physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually). Allow your feelings to happen without allowing them to dictate your actions. Notice your thoughts as they are without believing them. Accept how God has made you, flaws and all.
Mindfulness has a spiritual component. Throughout, scripture we are instructed to be still. Psalm 46:10 says “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Exodus 14:14 says “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Here’s a few ways to practice mindfulness:
BREATHING. Breathing should be an easy concept, it’s something we do without even thinking. But, the focus is slow down your breathing. One exercise is to breathe in and count to 6, hold for 3 seconds, then breathe out like blowing through a straw and count to 6. Repeat multiple times. Practice slowing down your breathing three minutes per day. Another exercise is a body scan. Bring your attention to your body, pay attention to your breathing and notice any tense areas.
MINDFUL WALK. Go for a walk without distractions, no music, no children, etc. Notice what is going on around you, look up from your feet and notice the scenery, the nature around you. Listen to the sounds of the birds, the insects, the trees blowing in the wind. Notice the smells, fresh grass cut, flowers. Pay attention to how your feet feel with each step on the concrete or grass.
MEDITATION: Meditation can occur in various ways. The important aspect is to be silent and reflect- whether that be on a situation that occurred, an encouraging quote, an excerpt from a book, or a passage of scripture. Set aside a time to slow down and think.
YOGA: The purpose of yoga is to bring balance to your body and connect the body, mind and spirit. Yoga implements stretching and breathing, it makes you become aware of the present moment. Find a class or video to help you get started.
No matter what season you’re in, or how busy that season might be, the challenge is to get intentional about slowing down. Take 5-10 minutes this week to slow down and breathe. Allow yourself to go sit outside or watch your children play. Pay attention to what is around you, what are things you hear, see, touch, smell, and even taste.