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The Secret to Living Mindfully

Have you heard and seen the word “mindfulness” on blogs, in magazines and from friends?

Have you read that if you live mindfully you will feel more at ease and calm?

Have you thought, “If I was just more mindful, my life would be so much better?”

If so, you are in good company.

The idea of mindfulness has been hung out to us like a bone to a dog. We have been promised that if we just acheive a level of presence, acceptance and clarity everything will be easier.

But, what often falls through the crack with that message is that becoming mindful is not something you achieve and then have indefinitely.

Mindfulness is a moment-to-moment practice.

This is often when my clients’ eyes glaze over.

What the heck does moment to moment even mean? I mean, could you be more vague?

I hate vagueness and so does behavior change.

In order to change a habit we need to be specific and clear.

How is this for specificity: popping popcorn is how you become mindful.

Every afternoon at 3 pm my 14-year-old son walks through the door, throws his heavy backpack to the ground and asks, “Mom, can you make me some popcorn?”

Even though his voice is deep and sounds like a 25-year-old man’s, I can still hear the hint of his childhood voice in his request for his mom to take care of him after a long day at school.

At around 3:05, I begin my routine of making him popcorn (If you have ever been on the phone with me at this time, you have heard the loud sounds emanating from the machine).

I grab the air popper from the cabinet, pour the popcorn kernels in, take a slab of butter and place it on top of the machine in a tin measuring cup.

The tin measuring cup is a substitute for the butter-melting part that we lost the second day we got the machine.

I plug the machine in to the outlet on our counter and press the power button.

I think of all the things I could do while the popcorn is being made, but I cannot move. I have to stand with the machine while it’s popping.

I have to hold the measuring cup in place because it does not really fit perfectly, and our counter is so slippery that if left alone, the machine would slide all over leaving popcorn everywhere in the kitchen.

So, I stand and watch the kernels jump, turn lighter colors and eventually moving from ovals to the most beautiful white, airy flowers.

When I first started making popcorn for my son, I had no intention of it becoming part of my mindfulness routine, but then it fell into my lap. I could not walk away, so I chose instead to observe.

I notice now that the observation stage has spread to other parts of the experience.

Now I love to listen to the sound of the kernels filling up the metal container in the machine. I like to smell the butter as it slowly melts. I like to observe those last stubborn kernels that pop just when I pull the bowl away.

This whole process takes about four minutes, but it is a piece of my day when I know I will simply observe and experience my environment.

This is the crux of mindfulness. Observe what is around you with all your five senses.  How does this moment look, smell, taste, feel and sound like?

This, my friends, is mindfulness and it only has to be for three minutes.

What daily routine can you bring more attention to today and notice all of your senses while you do? Brushing your teeth? Drinking from a glass of water? Putting gas in your car?


What Should I Do Next?

When you’re ready to begin therapy, we hope you’ll consider contacting The Center for CBT in New York City. We offer a safe space where you are free to be who you really are and express yourself and your values authentically. We embrace, value, and welcome people of all sexual orientations, genders, and racial identities. The Center for CBT in New York City makes beginning your therapy journey simple. You can get started any time by completing our online consultation request form. One of our team members will be in touch within 24 business hours to answer your questions.

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