Throughout our day it is easy to get wrapped up in bouncing from task to task, becoming highly stressed, exhausted or emotional without even being aware of it. By taking a moment to stop what we are doing and mindfully pause we can become more focused, aware, and direct our attention where we want it to be. Pausing mindfully can also help us regulate our emotions so that we do not further exacerbate our stress or destructive mind states.
Throughout the day at various times, stop and take a moment to check in with yourself and how you are feeling.
- Begin by designating three times a day that you will pause mindfully and check in with yourself.
- For each mindful pause begin by stopping what you are doing.
- Take three mindful breaths, placing your full attention on each in-breath and each out-breath.
- Proceed to shift your awareness and attention to what is going on internally.
- Become aware of any and all physical sensations throughout your body.
- If you come across areas of tension, invite them to soften.
- Become aware of any emotions that may be present and see if you can greet them with a curious and compassionate attention.
- Become aware of any thoughts that might be present in the moment.
- See if you can observe these thoughts, emotions and sensations as passing events and refrain from engaging in their content or pull.
- After you have become aware of your internal experience, bring your attention back to your breath and follow your breathing for a few rounds, allowing all thoughts, sensations, and emotions to be however they are.
- When you are ready, with awareness, set your intention for how you want to proceed in the next moments of your life and what you want to focus on.
- Return to whatever you were doing with greater awareness.
After practicing at regular times for a few days, also begin to use the mindful pause whenever you are experiencing a distressing emotion or difficult situation to respond to it mindfully instead of reacting in an automatic, possibly destructive manner.
Many Buddhist meditation teachers recommend mindfully checking in with yourself throughout the day to become aware of your experience. The method presented here was adapted from a variety of sources including the Breathing Space meditation by psychologist Zindel Segal, the Mindful Check-in and STOP practices by MBSR instructors Bob Stahl and Elisha Goldstein, and practices from Pema Chodron’s book Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves From Old Habits and Fears.
- The Mindful Way Through Depresion: Freeing Yourself From Chronic Unhappiness by Mark Williams, PhD, John Teasdale, PhD, Zindel Segal, PhD, and Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD.
- Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves From Old Habits and Fears by Pema Chodron.
- A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook by Bob Stahl, PhD and Elisha Goldstein, PhD.
- Guided STOP method: https://youtu.be/PhwQvEGmF_I