It’s not lost on any of us that the past two years of the pandemic have given us all a figurative kick in the introspective pants. We have all been forced to find new ways to center, to ground, to de-stress, to reset, to practice mindfulness, and to find the “happy” in life again amidst all the unknown swirling around us each day.
After all, in the big scheme of things this moment in history is but a chapter in the larger novel of our lives. Let’s lean into finding what works for us where mindfulness is concerned. It is the time for us to find ways to embrace what is right here, right now in front of us with zero judgment. This is what mindfulness offers. Finding the sweet sauce in the spaces between each breath without critiquing what we experience.
Below I will share six of my favorite mindfulness practices that can take place anytime/anywhere. (Of course breathwork and meditation are at the top of the list!)
Navigating Life Amidst the Amygdala Hijack
First, it’s important to understand the way some of us navigate life, although usually by no fault of our own, is by allowing life events to do what’s called an “amygdala hijack” a phrase coined by psychologist Daniel Goleman.
During this brain hijack, the amygdala is overactive and we respond reactively rather than from a place of center and calm. It is the amygdala’s job to detect danger, but often it thinks something is dangerous that’s not a threat at all. People who suffer from PTSD or trauma deal with this most often as their sole way of dealing with danger. This is also known as a flight, fight, or freeze response. Unfortunately, this reaction can lead to many health issues and a constant state of high alert.
Learning mindfulness as a way to elevate all areas of life is important.
This is especially important for those who struggle with trauma and PTSD.
The following offers a deeper definition of mindfulness and how this practice can be a game-changer. In my humble opinion, mindfulness should be in everyone’s self-care/wellness tool belt.
Mindfulness is the art of living and being in the present moment.
Mindfulness is also the art of living with complete awareness both mentally and physically while allowing all the emotions, sensations, and thoughts to exist without judgment of self or others. In short, witnessing our thoughts and feelings with objectivity.
The biggest lesson mindfulness teaches is how to truly “just be” without any criticism in any direction (especially self-criticism).
Mindfulness originated with Buddhist and Hindu teachings. In Buddhism, the journey toward enlightenment includes the concept of “sati.” Sati encompasses attention, awareness, and being present. These are the first steps toward enlightenment.
From this term (sati), the word “mindfulness” was born.
Mindfulness practice offers many benefits and is often referred to as a “superpower.”
These are some of the main benefits of practicing mindfulness.
- Reduces anxiety and stress. (Even just one session of mindfulness meditation can greatly reduce anxiety.)
- Upgrades your brain through the rewiring that takes place during consistent mindfulness practices.
- Increases brain functionality, improved immune function, and lower blood pressure and heart rate.
- Improves mental functions by increasing awareness.
- More clarity, focus, calm, and greater feelings of connection.
- Reduces feelings of depression, self-criticism, and increases resilience to difficulties.
This is just the short list of the benefits. The actual entire list is quite long! Ok, now let’s dive into how we can cultivate an at-home or on-the-go mindfulness practice that is guaranteed to introduce you to a whole new YOU.
6 Ways To Practice Mindfulness NOW
1. Pay attention to the way you respond or engage with the world around you throughout the day.
Rather than instantly reacting to a situation, someone else’s energy or the content you consume from a place of emotion, instead, with each encounter you have – remember to take a deep breath, lean into the present moment (stay out of the past or present) drop reactivity and feel and breathe for at least 10 seconds. Allow yourself to respond or react only when you feel a true connection to your center.
2. Engage in a sport or activity that involves mental focus as well as movement.
Ideas for these kinds of activities include: rock climbing, yoga, trail running, martial arts, painting, dance styles like hip hop, tango, salsa, jazz, etc. These sorts of activities demand mindfulness due to the precision and technicality of the activity along with the mind/body connection that is required to master the activity or sport.
3. Create a daily mindful breathing practice that consists of breath awareness exercises.
The goal of this type of breathwork is to get present with the inflow and outflow of the breath by noticing the length of each breath, the sensations of the breath, and all the nuances that take place with each wave of the breath cycle.
4. Practice moving meditations.
Moving meditations are a different style than traditional seated meditation and is done by simply becoming aware of your breath, your surroundings, your senses, and each movement as you engage in any regular activity throughout the day.
5. 5 minute Trail of Gratitude practice.
This is one of my favorites and is part of my daily wellness routine. You can do this seated or lying down – this is how I end each breathwork class I teach and it’s a beautiful way to combine gratitude and visualization (another powerful mindfulness technique)
How to practice Trail of Gratitude:
- Picture yourself in your favorite place in nature, and see yourself standing there .your bare feet firmly rooted on the ground beneath you.
- In front of you is a trail and it’s clear you are meant to walk down it.
- As you stand there, begin to see all of the people in your life that have touched you, changed your life for the better, and/or deeply impacted you. Visualize all the people you are grateful for. See them one by one appearing on this trail of gratitude.
- Walk up to them, look deep into their eyes and say “Thank you, I’m grateful for you.” Give them a big hug for touching your life.
- Continue doing this for 5 minutes or more and see how many people you can call onto this trail of gratitude.
- This practice brings tears every time.
6. Practice Mindfulness in the Shower.
This one is more of just a great wellness and mindful way to start the day. Another of my favorite wellness and mindfulness practices involves combining some of the above (breathwork and visualizations) in the shower. Add some self-massage for relaxation and stress relief, and affirmations (aka rapfirmations).
How to Practice Stress Relief in the Shower
- Start with some deep mindful breathing.
- Take a breath in through the nose and out through the mouth, making an audible sigh on the exhale.
- Do several cycles of these “deep sigh breaths.” Letting the sighs be freeing, relaxing, and soothing.
- Then do a body scan which is simply starting at your feet and working your way to the top of your head by checking in with each area of your body for any discomfort, stress, tightness, or stuck energy along the way.
- As you move up the body, breathe into each new area. See where you might need to add some self-massage along with the warm water from the shower targeting that area.
- Take a few minutes to massage that area until relief is found and the body scan is complete.
- As a final component to this morning mindfulness and wellness routine, end with 3-5 minutes of affirmations.
- I’ve found that singing or “rapping” them has created more of a connection to my affirmation practice over the last few years. Seriously, give it a try, you’ll see what I mean.
Implement 6 Easy Ways to Practice Mindfulness Now
Start with these 6 ways to create more mindfulness throughout each day. Watch as your connection and interaction with yourself and the world around you begins to transform.
Remember, you are always just one breath away from “happy and healthy”!
Rebecca Kordecki is the owner of The Breath Zone and the creator of Booty Slide. She has enjoyed a very successful 26-year career as a highly sought after celebrity trainer and wellness expert.
Over the past 5 years Rebecca has added Breathwork to her list of expertise after training with Dan Brule and David Elliot.
Rebecca is beyond passionate about teaching people to use breath + movement to get out of their heads and into their hearts and be the boss of their happy and healthy one breath at a time.
She’s been featured on The Today Show, EXTRA, Daily Candy and in Vogue Magazine, Men’s Health and many others.
You can follow Rebecca on Instagram @rebeccakordecki or visit her website www.thebreath.zone to find classes and dates for her upcoming breathwork teacher training.