Week One: Mindfulness at Home

Introduction

This course is a short introduction to mindfulness and its application to your daily activities. The purpose of this course is not to encourage you to incorporate new activities into you busy schedule. The purpose is to teach you how to make your daily activities more enjoyable by applying mindfulness. Each week, you will learn to incorporate mindfulness into different areas of your life. This week, you will learn how to incorporate mindfulness at home.

In case you are new to the concept of mindfulness, we will review what is mindfulness and how it is different from meditation. 

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is defined as the mental state achieved when one is focused and aware of the present moment. When you are mindful, you are able to notice and acknowledge your thoughts and how your body feels. When you are practicing mindfulness, you are not thinking of the past or worrying about the future.

Mindfulness can make daily activities, usually considered chores, more enjoyable. For example, regular tasks such as laundry may be more enjoyable when you are doing them mindfully. You may notice the pleasant smell of the laundry detergent and the warmth of the clothes when you take them out of the dryer when you practice mindfulness while doing the laundry. Practicing mindfulness also brings a sense of calm and is an antidote to rushing. Since your are not rushing and you are fully aware of what you are doing when you are practicing mindfulness, the tasks that you accomplish are done with more care.

Mindfulness vs Meditation

The term mindfulness is often used interchangeably with the term meditation. The truth is, the definitions of these terms do overlap, however; they are different and have different purposes. Meditation is an umbrella term that encompasses mindfulness. Meditation is the practice of reaching the ultimate consciousness and mindfulness is considered to be one type of meditation. Other types of meditations include guided visualization, mantra, kundalini, etc.  Mindfulness is the practice of being fully aware of the present moment. Nowadays, the terms mindfulness and meditation are often grouped together like so:  “mindfulness & meditation”. This course will focus primarily on mindfulness.

5 Common Excuses Not To Meditate

The terms “mindfulness & meditation” are often grouped together and this may be influencing your attitude and perception of mindfulness. You may be thinking that meditation is not for you and that only monks practice meditation. You may also be thinking that you do not have what it takes to practice meditation and mindfulness. These are misconceptions. Meditation and mindfulness are accessible and beneficial to everybody. Below is a video explaining how to overcome the 5 most common excuses used to not meditate. 

Reflection

Being mindfulness is conceptually simple and easy, however; most people are not mindful most of the time. Recognizing that you are not focused on the present moment is important because only then are you able to incorporate change. Self assessment questions are listed below and you are encouraged to answer them truthfully. 

Self Assessment Questions

1. I notice that I am aware of my thoughts multiple times a day.

2. I notice when my muscles get tense or when my heart begins to beat faster.

3. I try to distract myself when I feel unpleasant thoughts or emotions.

4. I keep my mind busy to avoid thoughts or feelings.

5. I reach for my phone when I am waiting in line or for an appointment.

6. I am aware of the water running on my body when I shower.

7. I am aware of other people’s facial and body expressions.

8. I often interrupt people when they talk.

9. I realize that I have overeaten or I forget to eat often.

10. I am aware of my thoughts when my mood changes.

At the end of this course, you are encouraged to answer the self assessment questions once more and to notice if some of your answers have changed.

Inspiration

Practicing mindfulness is not difficult. What is difficult is remembering to be mindful and noticing when you are not. Mindfulness is a practice because it is impossible to be mindful 100% of the time. Your mind will naturally wonder away from the present moment, often. The key is noticing when this happens and gently bringing your awareness back to the present moment.

How to practice mindfulness

Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere and anytime. One easy way to bring your awareness to the present moment is to focus on your breath. Notice your breath going in and then out. Notice your belly expanding and how the air feels when it enters your nostrils. You can then begin to focus your awareness on your other senses. What do you smell? Are you able to identify different sounds? Can you hear birds chirping outside? Are you feeling cold or warm? Can you feel the sun or a breeze on your skin? How is your mood?

Inevitably, you mind will drift away from the present moment and you may not notice this right away. When you notice that you are no longer focused on the present moment, acknowledge it and focus your attention on your breath once more. Know that you will have to keep doing this over and over again. That is why mindfulness is a practice. Eventually, with practice, you will notice when you have drifted away from the present moment quicker and you will be able to bring yourself back to the present with more ease.

Application

This week, you are encouraged to practice mindfulness at home every single day. Mindfulness does have some immediate benefits but there are also long term benefits to a regular practice. The short term benefits include feeling more joy and increasing your patience. Long term benefits include better memory and decreased feelings of stress.

Weekly Assignment

This week, your assignment is to commit to doing one daily household task mindfully. You may choose to do the cooking, dishes, laundry, cleaning mindfully or you may choose to practice mindfulness during your shower or when you brush your teeth. It’s up to you!

When you are doing your chosen task, practice mindfulness by focusing on your breath and senses. When you notice that you are no longer focused on the present, bring your attention back to your breath.

You are encouraged to write down how being mindful changes your experience and how you feel about this particular task. You may also write down if you found it difficult to practice mindfulness.  

Congratulations on completing the week one content! 

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“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention.
This is how we cultivate mindfulness.”
– Jon Kabat-Zinn