By: Nina Smiley, Ph.D., Director of Mindfulness Programming, Mohonk Mountain House
What does that mean?
How does it work?
And isn’t it an oxymoron?
The current surge of enthusiasm for mindfulness expounds on multiple benefits – that it will calm you down, eliminate stress, make you happier, smooth out your life… and more!
Truth be told, mindfulness will help you calm down, reduce stress, and feel happier, and – as Jon Kabat-Zinn notes – this is within the “full catastrophe’’ of your life. The life where flights are delayed or cancelled, computers crash, and people push your buttons.
Even when you practice mindfulness, these situations will arise. But the good news is – while the situations are the same, you are different! This is where being “mindfully” cranky comes in. It can change a stressful experience fraught with escalating frustration and irritation to simply… “an experience.’’
You still missed the flight … the screen still went blank … your spouse is still annoying … and you’re still feeling cranky – but mindfully so.
Acknowledge and observe the situation. Explore the feeling of annoyance. Understand that it will arise and pass away. This offers a moment of mindfulness in which you can choose to be skillful instead of erupting with frustration or anger – and this choice can change everything.
The next time you’re feeling cranky, rather than doing or saying something you’ll regret, perceive this as an “alert” and try a different approach. Be “mindfully” cranky instead!
Take a deep, slow, full breath. Then another. As you continue to breathe, begin to watch the mind, stay present in the moment, gently acknowledge each thought, and let it go.
As you recognize and name each emotion, observe yourself. Feeling irritable? No need to deny it. But no need to act on it either. Simply be interested. Instead of clinging to emotions, begin to feel the space around them.
Give it a try! Learning to use Mindfulness-in-Action can change your life – one moment at a time!