Self-Challenge: 14 Days of Mindfulness 101

My latest self-challenge (reflected in my November 20 post), was to practice mindfulness for 5 minutes a day during a 14-day period.

14 days later, I am self-aware and reflective. I truly believe that short, quick breaths equate to a shorter, more anxious life. Long, steady breaths lead to a calmer, longer life. While simple in theory, mindfulness can still be challenging to incorporate into your everyday until it becomes habitual. And its ok if that takes some time.

In the beginning, you’ll notice a few things.

1.     Your body becomes accustomed to slow, meaningful breaths. The breathing forces your body to slow down and ask itself – what is happening this second? When you close your eyes, what do you smell or hear? Pay less attention to the actual smell or sound, just acknowledge that you’ve honed in on this moment.

2.     You may find it is helpful to silently repeat a mantra in your head to keep yourself focused on that moment. Mine is “be here, be calm.” You can choose any short phrase that slows your thoughts and your breathing.

3.     Your mind will wander at least every 15-20 seconds. When it does, repeat the mantra to bring the mind back to the present. If it helps your focus, you can also visualize a favorite location to force the mind to concentrate on one thing.

My favorite places to visualize:

I can't stress enough that mindfulness is a muscle that must be used regularly. Keep working on it!

I'd love to hear about your experiences on how your incorporate breathing into your routine. Feel free to share!