Pause and take a deep breath. Now, intentionally tighten the muscles in your body. Clench your fists. Squeeze your toes. Scrunch your face. Notice how it feels to hold this tension. Release your muscles. Notice how it feels to relax. Oftentimes, we move through our days holding this kind of tension in our bodies without noticing.
Mindfulness is a tool that enables us to notice. It is the psychological process of bringing a relaxed awareness to the present moment, simply noticing what is happening now. Through breathing and meditation techniques, those who practice mindfulness can learn to tune into mental, physical, and environmental sensations without judgement.
In this space, we can teach our bodies and minds to release tension, and strengthen trust, patience and acceptance. Mindfulness activities have been shown to improve attention, emotional regulation, and sensory processing abilities, and to increase our capacity for compassion and empathy.
As with any new routine or ritual, cultivating a mindfulness practice may at first require concentrated effort or time set aside each day. With practice, mindfulness may result in a set of tools that we may call upon while engaged in a wide variety of daily activities like cooking, driving, showering, or walking. In other words, mindfulness can become a way of doing something instead of another thing we do.