By Jennifer Baublitz

What is the skill? Mindfulness is an essential practice for boosting resilience. It is a state of awareness that allows us to attend to the here and now and be truly present and grounded in the moment. When mindful of the present, the mind is calm, not empty. It is virtually impossible to empty the human brain as there are an infinite number of stimuli within and around us at any given moment which we are designed to process! Calming the mind filters out the constant input and allows us to focus on what is happening in our immediate environment as well as in our headspace. Mindfulness also teaches us to observe what’s going on without judgment, allowing ourselves and the present moment to just be. 

Why is it Important? When we train our brain to be mindful, we are creating a “sacred pause” or space in which we can regulate our emotions and behaviors before we react to what is going on in and around us. Mindfulness increases our ability to:

  • Adapt to new situations

  • Engage in problem solving

  • Accept and appreciate the human experience

  •  Relinquish the desire for control

  •  Practice kindness and compassion for ourselves and others

  • Connect with people on a deeper level

  • Experience our world in depth

  • Strengthen the mind/body connection

  • Manage stress

The Challenge: There are many things, however, built into our day to day lives that directly challenge our ability to practice mindfulness, some of which are even lauded as skills. The ability to “multitask” is a perfect example of one such skill that we often view as a considerable strength (often associated with military spouses 😉). Multitasking, or the ability to juggle many responsibilities all at once, is often viewed as essential for productivity and perceived as synonymous with competence. 

Although this may be true in some cases and at times essential, (like when you’re making dinner, trying to help with homework and sending out one last email to meet a deadline all between 5:00 and 5:30), it often results in burnout and mistakes. Not to mention, when we do finally stop to smell the roses, we realize that most of those moments multitasking robbed us of our experiences and precious memories and opportunities are lost. We are only programmed to genuinely attend to a certain amount of input at any given moment, which is why we cannot listen to more than one person speak at the same time and absorb what they are saying (go ahead, give it a try). 

At the same time, this is how our society is built. We usually have multiple screens in our face at any given time while we are attempting to complete more work than can be completed in a reasonable amount of time to meet unrealistic expectations. Ultimately, this lifestyle short-circuits our brains, resulting in hypersensitivity to stress and an inability to attend.

How do we Achieve it? Hence, skills for mindfulness must be practiced! Our thinking and behaviors literally shape our brains overtime and it is possible to train yourself to be more present and less reactive to stress. The most effective strategy for achieving this is meditation. Meditation is the act of deliberately focusing ones attention on the present moment by tuning in to present sensations. This may mean focusing on the breath, bodily sensations, sounds or other sensory experiences. Meditation helps quiet the mind as you train yourself to let thoughts pass by without engaging them. To get started, try this out:

  • Find a quiet space

  • Get comfortable either in an upright, seated position or if your back necessitates it, lying down (just be sure to try not to fall asleep!)

  • Begin by tuning into your breath. Notice how it feels to breathe in and out

  • Try to feel the air flowing in your nose and filling your lungs and abdomen

  • Try counting the breath – you can either count on the in/out 1:1, or count the seconds in and seconds out, whatever works for you

  • It may also be helpful to recite “in/out” as you breath

  • Thoughts will come and go as you sit with your breath, that’s natural. Try to acknowledge them, let them go and return to the breath 

  • Try this for about 20min; you may build up the time as your practice begins to feel more natural

Need a Little Assistance: You can find many resources for mindfulness and guided meditations here: