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Time for a STOP Break?

 Anwar Ali/unsplash

Anwar Ali/unsplash

After my most recent weekly mindfulness email, a long-time friend sent back a response: Just want you to know, I don’t always read the newsletter.. but just seeing it reminds me to be more mindful and I am better for it.

Well, you should be reading it, I teased, but glad to hear it. His message made my day because, in essence, this is what mindfulness is all about—pausing to bring yourself back into the moment by taking a few deep breaths, by dropping the shoulders, by considering what you are grateful for—in this case triggered by an email in the in-box.

So, objective met. I imagine my friend stopped in the midst of his busy work day, pulled himself out of the swirling thoughts in his head, and took a calming breath or two.

(Hey, Will? Are you reading this one to the end? No matter, my hope is just seeing my name in your in-box is enough to remind you to breathe. If you’ve gotten this far, have a good one, my friend, and thanks for the inspiration.)

For the rest of you… I offer the STOP Mindful Break, a quick way to reset and refocus any time of the day.

1. Stop. Pause whatever you are doing.

2. Take a breath. Actually, take a few deep inhales and exhales, lengthening each one as you do. Bring your full attention to the sensations of the breath in the belly as you notice it rise and fall.

3. Observe. You might scan through the body briefly to discover where your muscles have tightened. Unfurrow the brow and soften the small muscles around the eyes, mouth, and jaw. Drop the shoulders and soften the hands. Relax the stomach, back, and leg muscles. OR look around as if you’ve never seen your current surroundings before. What shapes, colors, and shadows do you notice? What draws your eye?

4. Proceed. Now that you have stepped out of automatic pilot and have returned to the present moment (congratulations!), continue on mindfully with the rest of your day.


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