Modern life is chock-full of habits of mind that get in the way of mindfulness. Be on the lookout for them in your own life. Steering clear of them will be part of practicing mindfulness.
Here are some of the most common things that pull people out of mindfulness:
- Thinking about the past (literally taking you out of the moment)
- Thinking about the future (ditto)
- Judging, analyzing, criticizing, or evaluating
- Attaching to thoughts or observations
- Pushing away thoughts or observations
- Having a lack of intention
- Having a lack of compassion
- Being in denial
WISE MIND LIVING PRACTICE
Catch Yourself Being Judge-y
Judgment is one of the most common ways to pull yourself out of mindfulness. Whether you are judging your experience as good, bad, or ugly, it’s an obstacle to be fully present in the moment. And you do it all the time. Everyone does. The way to do it less — the way to not let judging interfere with your ability to be mindful — is to increase your awareness of when you are judging.
Try spending a few days noticing all the judgments you make throughout the day. About anything and everything: “What the hell is that lady wearing?” “Yuck, this food is gross!” “I should not be the one handling this!” Any time you catch yourself playing Judge Judy, notice it, label it as a judgment, and resist the temptation to judge yourself for being judgmental. Then try to tell yourself the same story but with neutral (nonjudgmental) language: “Her shirt is bright.” “Oh, that is bitter.” “I have a task that I do not like.” With enough practice, you’ll begin to make that kind of switch automatically — in mindfulness practice as well as in life.
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Erin Olivo, PhD, MHD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and an assistant clinical professor of medical psychology at Columbia University. She has a psychotherapy practice in New York City. See erinolivo.com.