Mindfulness is a very personal practice. I like to tell people “You can’t do it wrong.”
What that means is, each person can practice in ways that work for them. You may find that some of the classic mindfulness exercises that are designed to be good self-care practices actually make you more anxious.
The number one rule is: Do what you need to take care of yourself!
One of the clearest examples of this is breath awareness. Simply noticing your breath coming in and going out is one of the most common forms of
mindfulness practice. Yet for a some people, focusing on the breath actually creates some anxiety, or a feeling that they need to change their breath to make it slower or deeper.
If you are one of those people, try another mindfulness practice. Don’t push yourself to practice breath awareness. Try a different form of mindfulness such as a body scan, sound meditation, choiceless awareness, or kinetic focus such as walking, stretching, or a guided meditation.
Another common example is in a guided meditation practice, what the leader is encouraging everyone to do may land you in some form of discomfort – physical, mental, or emotional. You don’t have to follow along and so as the facilitator suggests.
Exercise your free will!
At every moment you have a choice, and mindfulness is above all about noticing that moment of choice. As Nazi concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl said, Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
Set yourself free. Explore various mindfulness practices to see what works for you. No matter what the “guru” or your favorite people love to do, your practice is very personal. Create a practice that nourishes YOU – body, mind and spirit. Then just notice. It might change….or not!
Julie Fraser is a change leader who helps clients create environments where all people can flourish. She does this by creating safe, supportive and business-appropriate mindful experiential learning programs for leaders and their teams. Julie explains and delivers opportunities to experience the benefits of mindfulness plus effective collaboration, communication and performance coaching. A meditation and certified yoga and teacher, she also guides moving mindfully, taking pauses in the workday to regain energy, calm and focus. Her company Present Source offers programs to guide clients to better communication, productivity, focus, innovation, influence, teamwork, and employee engagement. www.presentsource.com