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Mind Full or Mindful?

One day last spring I dropped off my car at the parking garage like I’ve done a hundred times, leaving it in the narrow space where cars enter and exit. Putting the car in park, a text came in which I answered while removing my bags and bike. By the time I walked into my apartment my phone was ringing. “Where are your keys?” shouted the garage attendant. “No one can get in or out!” Instead of leaving the keys in the ignition—like I always do—I took them.

So when my sister Meredith invited me to attend a mindfulness workshop in July, I agreed. Mindfulness is, quite simply, being aware of what’s going on around you. Yet quite often, we’re not. We’re doing two, maybe three things at once, with nothing getting our full attention and things occasionally falling through the cracks. The workshop taught how just a few minutes of conscious breathing every day could help correct that.

Studies show that people who are “in the moment” are happier. Makes sense. If you’re not, then life is passing you by. Along with lowering stress, decreasing anxiety and helping with weight loss, mindfulness can help you stay organized.

Take your closet. You organize it. Better yet, you hire an organizer to organize it. The next morning you pick out a shirt. You try it on and decide to wear something else. Okay, now this is where mindfulness comes in: do you refold the shirt and put it back properly or just toss it onto a shelf? Now it’s your closet, you can do what you want, but being mindful means taking the time to do it right. Putting it back haphazardly also says you’re not worth having a nice closet. If you’re too tired or busy to put it where it belongs, don’t put it away. Wait until you have the time to do it mindfully.

When I returned to NYC and pulled into my parking garage last month, wouldn’t you know, a text came in at the same time. Ignoring my phone, I gathered my belongings as the attendant sprinted out of the booth.

“Keys in the ignition,” he said, more statement than question.

I nodded. “Sorry again about that,” I said. “My mind was full at the time.”

3 Easy Steps for Mindfulness Breathing

  1. Sit up straight, close your eyes, rest your hands on your lap or one hand on your belly to feel the breath going in and out.

  2. Focus on your breathing, feel your stomach expand and lower.

  3. Continuously bring attention to your breathing. Your mind will wander as you do this exercise. Just bring it back to your breath. The whole point of the exercise is to reign back in your thoughts, as it will wander over and over. Start with two minutes a day! That’s it.

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