Continuing Education

Simple Mindfulness That Brings Simply Joy

We asked Mindfulness Meditation instructor Andrea D’Asaro to share with us some brief, easy steps for daily mindfulness to help with stress reduction.Image

In this busy world of ours, the mind gets pulled from one place to the next, scattering thoughts and leaving us stressed, highly-strung and anxious. It’s essential for our happiness to take a few minutes each day to cultivate spaciousness and a positive mind-body balance. The simplest way is through soft attention to the breath and body. Try using this practical mindfulness exercise to connect with a moment of calm, present awareness.

1. Set the intention to sustain your attention.

Intention and attention are the two hallmarks of mindfulness. Give yourself a gentle instruction to be attentive and open to the sense in your body, mind and heart of how you feel in this moment. This can take courage and lots of self-compassion.  

2. Relax.

As you are being mindful of your breathing, you can slow down your nervous system by enjoying exhalations that are twice as long as your inhalations. This stimulates the calming, centering Parasympathetic Nervous System and settles down the fight-or-flight response that jiggles the spotlight of attention this way and that.Image

3. What warms your heart.

We need self-care and self-love to allow openness to where we are right now. Bring to mind a sense of belonging in a relationship or group, a situation where you are appreciated, cherished and loved. You can also touch a sense of your own goodwill for others, your own compassion, kindness, and love. Warming up the heart in this way helps you feel protected, and it brings a rewarding juiciness to the moment.

4. Get a sense of the body as a whole.

You might try breathing into the whole body, as if your inhale can extend down to your feet and back out your head. You can gently observe many sensations appearing together each moment. This sense of things as a unified gestalt, perceived within a large and panoramic perspective, activates networks on the sides of the brain that support sustained mindfulness.

5. Come back to three mindful breaths.

Returning to a few mindful breaths during the day helps you step out of stress and into a Imagemoment of self-connection. Since “neurons that fire together, wire together,” your brain will begin to slow and extend the capacity to return to the moment.  It’s helpful to set a reminder for breathing on your phone, or try one of the many mindfulness apps that provide audio guides on similar practices.

Pull all of these steps together with the help of this video.

Learn more about Andrea’s work on her website, and find out about her upcoming mindfulness classes by visiting our course catalog.

Photo credit #1: Michael Havens_cc_2.0
Photo credit #2: Christian Siccam_cc_2.0
Photo credit #2: LyncolnDoggett_cc_2.0