Take A Few Deep Breaths.
Observe Your Experience.
Proceed With Awareness…
“Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
STOP is a simple mindfulness technique that you can use to create space in the day, calm down from a worried mind and shift back into the present moment. It has been found to be enormously helpful in mitigating the negative effects of our response to stress. As we drop into the present moment, we’re more likely to gain perspective and see that we have the power to regulate our response to the pressures we are experiencing. Here is how to practice STOP:
S – Stop what you are doing. Wherever you are, just pause. You may wish to sit, slow down, and just be still for a moment.
O – Observe your experience. Noticing what is happening by looking at your thoughts, feelings and emotions. Also, notice your body, your posture, any pain or sensations you may be experiencing. Take a few moments to reflect on what is arising for you. You might like to name your thoughts and emotions – research shows that naming what we are feeling can slow down the fear circuit in our brain and help to calm us down.
P – Proceed with awareness. Have paused and tuned in, move back into your day knowing what might best support you at this time. Perhaps it would be good to go for a walk, call a friend, have a cup of tea or stretch your neck and shoulders before returning to the next thing on your list! Even if you can’t take that time right now, you can tune in and know what will be helpful to do later in the day.
There is a growing amount of research on the benefits on meditation and mindfulness practices. Just this past week, Time Magazine share an article entitled,
Many studies now show that mindfulness meditation can reduce anxiety and our overall response to stress. The exciting new is that “Mindfulness changes our brains!”. Studies reviewing MRI’s of Mindfulness practitioners show the following changes:
- Increases in the density of gray matter in the Pre-frontal Cortex, an area connected to awareness, concentration and decision-making.
- Increases in the cortical thickness in the Hippocampus, an area which governs learning and memory.
- Decreases in the volume of cells in the Amygdala, the brain’s “fight or flight” center, helping to reduce fear, anxiety and the response to stress.
- The connection between the amygdala and the rest of the brain gets weaker, while the connections between areas associated with attention and concentration get stronger.
And, some of the overall benefits of practicing mindfulness include:
- Reducing stress
- Decreasing anxiety and depression
- Improving self-awareness
- Boosting working memory
- Enhancing clarity and focus
- Reducing emotional reactivity
- Fostering relationship satisfaction
- Enhancing feelings of well-being
- Cultivating a positive attitude
- Increasing empathy and compassion for others and self!
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it!
I invite you to take some time this week to explore working with the STOP practice. And, check back next week for another Mindfulness Monday post!