Moodsurfing has often recommended mindfulness exercises for those grappling with bipolar and other chronic illnesses, but is it possible to go beyond exercises and make mindfulness a part of your everyday life?
One way to do this is to take an activity that you do habitually, like turning on the coffee maker in the morning, brushing your teeth, or whatever action you know that you always take upon getting up, or before or after eating or before bedtime. Train yourself to do this habitual action mindfully.
For example, I used to have a job with a long commute by car every morning and evening. There was one part of the drive that was along a rural area, and I tried to train myself to look at the fields every day, and appreciate what was there – the newly plowed soil, just sprouting plants, and so on, all the way to the dry winter brown of the withered plants. The whole commute might include a lot of aggravation and ruminating on stuff going on at work or home, but that two or three minute check-in at the farm side gave me a real rest and a lift every time. Of course, there were still days when I breezed past my favorite field without noticing, but I tried to reduce those days, and focus on the days of mindfulness.
The important thing is not to have a sudden euphoria, or a few moments of sublime insight, the important thing is to have a habit of a minute of mindfulness every day. Then it gradually becomes a part of your life.
Try it! Mindful coffee making or mindful breakfast cereal or mindfully putting on your socks each day. Just one habitual action done mindfully all the time can help you incorporate a practice in your life that after a while will extend to more and more of your time.
For more about mindfulness, see these Moodsurfing posts below:
And: check out our new “Bipolar Disorder Workbook” now available on Amazon.