The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook is a helpful guide that covers many different techniques in mindfulness. It includes exercises we can practice during meditation, but also outside of meditation by adding more awareness to our daily actions.
The main goal is to become more aware of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as they take place in the present moment. And when we become more aware of these things, we can live more consciously and better adapt to our environment and situation.
One of the techniques in the book is a very short exercise called a STOP Meditation. This is a technique we can use at any point in our day to help remind ourselves what we are doing. It’s a very simple and easy exercise to practice.
How to Practice STOP Meditation
- STOP what you’re doing.
- TAKE a few deep breaths, focusing on the sensations of your breathing. This helps reconnect you with the present moment and also creates a buffer between your thoughts and your actions.
- OBSERVE what is going on. Ask yourself:
- What am I thinking?
- What am I feeling?
- What am I doing?
- What are my intentions?
- PROCEED with your day with this new sense of mindful awareness (based on how you answered the questions above).
This small injection of mindfulness allows us to live more consciously no matter where we are or what it is we are doing. I like to consider it a form of mini-meditation. The best part about this exercise is that it doesn’t take up a lot of time (less than 30 seconds), and we can do it virtually anywhere:
- While at work.
- While at home.
- While at school or in class.
- While procrastinating.
- While eating.
- While exercising.
- While interacting with others.
- While pursuing others hobbies and interests.
As you can probably tell, the implications of this small exercise are huge and can be applied to a wide range of different activities in our lives. We can use this STOP meditation to be more aware, more productive, and better decision-makers. We can also use this STOP meditation when we find ourselves being distracted or overwhelmed. We then take a step back, make sure we are acting with the right priorities in mind, and continue our day with a clearer idea on what we want to accomplish.
I use the STOP technique at least 3-5 times a day. It’s an effective way for me to prevent myself from running around like a chicken without a head. Before I practiced STOP, I found myself frequently getting distracted by getting engaged in activities that I shouldn’t have been doing, because I had other more important stuff to do. STOP allows us to monitor ourselves better, and get back on our path when we may have tread off course.
It’s all-too-easy to keep refreshing your Facebook page, or checking your e-mails, when you know you’ve already done that a bunch of times within the past hour. We all have our common distractions. With mindfulness, it’s important to be aware when we get caught in these distractions, and then shift our attention back to what matters most at that moment in time.
I hope you will try to practice this STOP meditation a couple times within the next few days. You will certainly find yourself exercising greater control over how you spend your time, fighting procrastination better, and living with greater consciousness.
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