• Using Mindfulness on a Tight Schedule

    Hurry and read this!

    The rapid pace of American culture can make it difficult to live in the present.

    We frantically rush between appointments and responsibilities, our minds preoccupied with the task ahead. At night, we toss and turn while we think about tomorrow and the week to follow.

    Remember what life was like when you were a nine year old on summer vacation? No worries, no responsibilities, just happily chomping on a sticky Popsicle in the back yard.

    Allowing yourself to be in the moment and self-aware can help you set aside the stress so you can focus on what matters.

    At Minnesota’s Twin Cities Psychology & Couples Center, we urge clients to seek that goal. Of course, this is easier said than done when your schedule demands every moment you can spare. Therefore, we suggest using mindfulness.

    What exactly is mindfulness?

    When we are fully present in the moment, our mind is able to let go of the next deadline and focus on what matters. Mindfulness allows us to reorient ourselves to our internal experience and reflect on our thoughts and feelings without being swallowed up by them.

    Mindfulness is about learning to be more aware of your thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness techniques are also used to effectively treat symptoms of depression and anxiety (see Hofmann, Sawyer, Witt, & Oh, 2010).

    How can I use mindfulness?

    Techniques for learning to use mindfulness vary depending on the person. Self-awareness and feeling present require skills that are developed over time. Effective mindfulness is all about finding what works best for you.

    For some, mindfulness can look like mediation or prayer. Others are able to use mindfulness while doing their taxes or driving in heavy traffic.

    Here is a common mindfulness exercise that is used in ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy):

    1. Find a quiet, comfortable place where you can sit and be still for a few minutes.
    2. Close your eyes and allow yourself to breathe normally.
    3. Imagine yourself in a forest sitting next to a calm stream.
    4. As you sit and take in the scenery, imagine leaves falling gently from the tree branches.
    5. As the leaves fall, they land softly in the stream and slowly drift along the current.
    6. Allow your worrisome thoughts and uncomfortable feelings to be like the leaves. Notice them come into view as they flutter on to the surface stream.
    7. Watch as they slowly drift along the current until they pass beyond your view.
    8. Continue to sit and notice the leaves falling and drifting onward. Your mind will occasionally wander, and that is okay. Just make sure to allow yourself to return to the scenery and watch your little stream of thoughts pass by.

    Find a few minutes to use this exercise every day for one week and see what happens.

    Many people find this most helpful when they are trying to fall asleep, as the imagery is quite relaxing.

    How will that help?

    Being mindful takes practice.
    Mindfulness is about learning to attune to your thoughts and feelings. The forest and stream example is a great exercise for beginners, but there are many different ways of exercising self-awareness.

    As you get better at identifying thoughts and feelings that bring you stress, you can keep them from controlling your life. That is what mindfulness is all about.

    What else can I do?

    Would you like to learn more about mindfulness?

    Book your first session with us today, and we can help you on your journey to a life with less stress and more smiles.



    Hofmann, S. G., Sawyer, A. T., Witt, A. A., & Oh, D. (2010). The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: A meta-analytic review. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 78(2), 169.