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When someone grows up in a chaotic home environment or experiences complex trauma – meaning frequent experiences of interactions with a caregiver such as emotional invalidation, judgement, and/or physical abuse, etc. – beginning in early life, it is often difficult to experience feelings of mindful relaxation, connection with the present moment, and focus on tasks.
Mindfulness practices can be helpful in decreasing the impact of our trauma response and can promote healing from complex trauma. It can be hard to know where to start in your mindfulness practice, especially when you don’t have a lot of experience with feeling relaxed and anxiety or a constant need to stay busy might feel more comfortable or normal to your system. This how-to guide will give you some practical tips for creating a daily intentional mindfulness practice that works for you and your needs.
What is mindfulness and how can it help you in your daily life?
Mindfulness is an exercise in intentional awareness, a practice of paying attention to the present moment without passing judgment. It is a powerful tool that can help us decrease stress, gain control over our thoughts and emotions, and increase happiness in our daily lives. It involves focusing not just on physical activities or surroundings but also on understanding and processing our own thoughts and feelings.
Through mindfulness practice we can come to better understand ourselves and be more present for those important moments with our loved ones in life. So if you’re looking for a way to decrease stress, gain insight into how your thoughts and feelings effect you, or just need some simple daily practices to reconnect with yourself — practicing mindfulness could be an invaluable part of your daily routine.
Why is it important to be intentional about your mindfulness practice?
Practicing mindfulness is a great way to take care of your physical, mental, and emotional health. Being intentional with your practice means that you are really focusing on being aware of what is happening in the present moment and finding ways to deal with difficult emotions or challenging life circumstances.
Intentional mindfulness practice helps you stay connected to yourself and live an intentional life, which means feeling more control over your experience and not just responding to whatever comes at you or drifting along through life. And the more intentional you are, the better results you will get from your mindfulness practice. So don’t be afraid to invest some time and effort into establishing a mindful routine that works for you—it just might have a substantial impact on improving your overall physical and emotional wellbeing!
How can you create a daily mindfulness practice that works for you?
Incorporating regular mindfulness into your life can have a hugely positive impact on your well-being and sense of calm. The great news is that it doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking – just 5 minutes per day can make all the difference. You could set aside 5 minutes in the morning for yourself in which you practice mindful breathing or a simple meditative exercise – whatever works for you!
Additionally, if you find yourself feeling anxious or overwhelmed during the day, try taking one moment to practice radical acceptance and non-judgemental observance of the present moment by grounding in your sensory experience. Try closing your eyes, sitting with feet on the ground, and focusing on sounds that you hear around you for a few moments.
An intentional mindfulness routine is something that takes time and with some dedication and a personalized strategy even 5 minutes per day can help foster an inner sense of peace and a greater sense of control over your emotional experience.
Tips for making your mindfulness practice more effective
Mindfulness practice can be an effective way to ground yourself and cultivate a more compassionate relationship with yourself. To make the most of your mindfulness practice, it’s useful to ground to your sensory experience as you start.
By slowing down and taking a few moments to observe and describe what is happening in your body, mind, and environment, you can ground yourself in the present moment.
Mindful movement can help you stay grounded as well; try practicing a slow, contemplative form of movement like yoga or Qigong. Finally, don’t forget to participate in your practice by throwing yourself completely into your chosen mindfulness practice. Invite inner healing by bringing an attitude of kindness and curiosity towards any thought, feeling, or need that arises.
Troubleshooting common problems with mindfulness practices
Mindfulness practices can be a powerful tool for increasing self-awareness, calming thoughts and emotions, and connecting with our present experiences. However, there may be times when even the most experienced meditators find themselves struggling to focus or feeling overwhelmed.
If thoughts and distractions come into your mind during practice, don’t be afraid to step back from your thoughts and return to focusing on your breath. Additionally, try not to be too hard on yourself if you find that you cannot always tolerate the difficult feelings that arise through presence with your emotions.
People who have experienced complex trauma may notice fear or resistance towards mindfulness practice due to struggling with overwhelm related to experiencing distressing emotions. If this resistance or fear arises in your practice, have compassion towards yourself and practice being non-judgemental with your experience. You can always try again later or use self-soothe skills to feel more comfortable being present with your emotions.
Many people find it helpful to work up to gradual exposure to the present moment and their emotional experience over time. You can start with 20 seconds of presence and slowly build up to 5 minutes per day overtime! The most important aspect of intentional mindfulness practice is helping yourself to feel both safe and in control of your experience.
There are many ways to navigate these challenges by acknowledging thoughts without attaching to them, breathing deeply into emotions without judgment, and finding moments of joy throughout the day as you practice.
You now have a good understanding of what mindfulness is and how it can help you in your day-to-day life. Intentionality and routine are key when it comes to mindfulness practices, so remember to be gentle with yourself as you set up a plan that works for you. If you find yourself struggling with maintaining your practice or if certain obstacles seem insurmountable, don’t hesitate to seek out additional resources or troubleshooting solutions. And finally, ask yourself: what is my plan for mindfulness practice today?