You’ll probably find engaging in a formal daily mindfulness practice has real benefits in reducing the stress and anxiety you feel throughout the day. There is significant research showing this is usually the case. However, there are more effective ways you can engage in mindfulness to positively shape your day to an even greater degree than formal sitting practice. One skill developed by Jon Kabat Zinn, is the mindfulness practice of STOP.
STOP is primarily used to introduce mindful experience throughout your day, when you need it most. Even after a good mindfulness meditation in the morning, it’s easy to quickly get caught up in all of the stresses and activities of daily life. By applying mindfulness to these experience during your day, your mind will be on autopilot less, and you will be able to check in with how you are feeling, what you are thinking, and what behavior you’re engaging in.
STOP is an acronym that stands for:
S: Stop. Whatever you’re doing, just pause momentarily.
T: Take a breath. Re-connect with your breath. The breath is an anchor to the present moment.
O: Observe. Notice what is happening. What is happening inside you, and outside of you? Where has your mind gone? What do you feel? What are you doing?
P: Proceed. Continue doing what you were doing. Or don’t: Use the information gained during this check-in to change course. Whatever you do, do it mindfully.
By occasionally reminding yourself to stop during your day, you can increase your awareness of what is going on around you and inside you. You may stop and notice you are engaging in a lot of negative self-judgments. Using STOP may help you recognize when your body is becoming tense, and allow you to correct it before you are in pain. You might find that you’re hungry, or that a break might be helpful. The more you STOP during the day, the more you re-engage with reality, and disengage from the habitual busyness of your mind. Click here for more information about mindfulness-based therapies.
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