What is a Mindful Moment?

When we deliberately pay attention to what we are doing, we experience things directly through our senses and avoid getting caught up in worrying, judging and fight/flight reactivity. In contrast, when we are not deliberately paying attention to something, our brain clicks off into Default Mode. This is a type of attention characterised by mental chatter.

A mindful moment is created during that brief period of time when you notice or realise that you have been caught up in your thoughts or mental chatter. Mindfulness does not involve the emptying of the mind - instead, mindfulness is the practice of mindful moments where you actively notice your thoughts (“I’m noticing the thought that…”) and/or when you focus on the present moment by doing one thing at a time. You have probably experienced the present moment while engaging in activities such as exercise, playing music, being in nature, engaging in hobbies and spending times with loved ones.

Mindfulness begins with learning to focus on the moment. As we become deliberately aware, we start to notice that, while things can change from moment to moment - the awareness itself remains unchanged. When we bring open and accepting awareness to ourselves and others, we tend to act and relate with more compassion and care. We become gentler, kinder and our relationships start to change. As we become better practised at deliberate, open awareness in each moment, we become better at maintaining emotional equilibrium in any situation.

Mindfulness: Where to Begin

Beginner Tips

When you start, allow your mind to wander:

Attempts to control your restless thoughts will likely create more restlessness or frustration. Instead, separate yourself from following or judging the thoughts and they will slowly begin to quieten. If they do not, continue to notice the thoughts and become the observer as they pass by. Remember, we are not trying to remove our thoughts or feelings - we are becoming mindful of them.

Your breath is your anchor:

To help quieten a busy mind and stay present, focus on your breath. Begin with a few deep breaths in and out and slowly settle into a comfortable rhythmic pattern of breathing. If your mind wanders, do not worry. Without judgement, bring your attention back to noticing your breath flowing in and out. You may wish to try breathing in through your nose and slowly out through your mouth.

Set a timer:

When beginning something new and unfamiliar, it can be difficult to find the time and to stick to a task. By setting a timer (5-10 minutes) you are creating a commitment to those few minutes for focusing your attention on the present moment. After practising a few times, you may wish to extend your mindfulness time or stop using a timer.

Your way IS the right way:

We each have our own ways of feeling comfortable. You cannot succeed at mindfulness, instead, you practice mindfulness and live with the benefits each day. Some benefits include decreased stress, improved mood and less reactivity. How you choose to be mindful IS the right way.

Create a regular habit:

When practising mindfulness regularly, you will begin to feel the benefits in your daily life. To create a regular habit, attempt to practice at the same time each day and in the same place. Regular mindfulness practice can allow you to feel more in control when stressful situations arise. See below for how to create mindful moments throughout your day.

Creating Mindful Moments

Mindfulness Activities

Breathing to Relax

Slow your breathing down to help you relax. When we are feeling relaxed, we breathe approximately seven times per minute. Relaxed breathing can be especially helpful when you need to calm down before attending an exam, going to an interview, completing a speech/presentation or simply when you feel stressed.

  1. Breathe in slowly - counting to approximately five or six

  2. Hold in the breath – count to two

  3. Slowly let the breath go – counting to approximately eight

  4. Repeat

Mindful Eating

Consider how often you take the time to appreciate each sip of a drink or each bite of food. Often, we are eating on the go or chatting with friends or family over a meal. For example, when drinking your morning coffee, you may also be doing other tasks at the same time, such as, checking your phone, writing emails or organising items before work or school. When we take the time to notice what we are eating or drinking and experience it fully – we are eating mindfully. This mindful exercise can be done at any time when eating or drinking.

  1. Try to focus on doing just one thing at a time – i.e. eating or drinking only. Sit and put your phone away.

  2. Take a small piece of food – e.g. a piece of chocolate, a sultana or a caramel lolly

  3. Take a few centred breaths before placing it into your mouth

  4. Place the food in your mouth, but do not chew or swallow. Allow it to be in your mouth and notice the feeling.

  5. Focus on the sensation of taste and mouth feeling as the food sits on your tongue.

  6. Notice the texture, size, smell and even the sound of the food as you slowly begin to chew.

  7. As the taste dissolves from your mouth, take some more slow breaths before returning to your day’s activities.

This brief timeout has allowed you to focus solely on taste and the experience of eating and all the sensations that go along with eating mindfully.

Mindfulness requires practice and our psychologists at Bridge Street Psychology are able to help you develop mindfulness skills.

Mindfulness cannot happen in the future, it can only happen here and now.
— Tiddy Rowan ~ The Little Book of Mindfulness