The Best Mindfulness Exercise Most People Don’t KnowNone By Ryan Niemiec, Psy.D., education director at the VIA Institute
“Live in the moment,” “one moment at a time,” “just breathe,” “look within,” “be in the here-and-now,” “face your problems head-on.” Who’s not attracted to these mindfulness-related, self-help concepts? In reality, mindfulness is hard work but there is an easy way to access these adages quickly, to begin cultivating your mindfulness, and to activate your strengths at the same time!
I call it The Mindful Pause. It involves two simple steps:
1.) Pause and feel your in-breath and out-breath for 10-15 seconds.
2.) Conclude with a question: Which of my character strengths will I bring forward right now?
Why Is It Effective?
It's brief. People love short mindfulness exercises. And, most people don’t want to take much time out of their schedule to practice mindfulness. Everyone has 10-15 seconds.
It integrates into whatever you are doing. Are you waking up about to start your day? Eating lunch? Talking with your boss on the phone? Sending an e-mail? Driving home from work? Doing house-cleaning? Playing with your children? The Mindful Pause brings you into the moment and it puts the onus on you to bring forth your best strength(s)…regardless of what you’re doing.
It prepares you to be your best self, to be ready for challenging moments, to handle stressors, and to give your strengths away more freely. It readies you for each new moment in your day–all of your transitions–from eating to working to driving to talking to typing to listening.
It works. Brief meditations and abridged mindfulness-based programs are gaining traction in peer-reviewed research studies. The belief that one has to meditate for 1 hour a day in order to find benefit has been disproven. While reports from the field are overwhelmingly positive about this practice (see examples below), research is needed on the specifics of this technique.
It calls forth your best. There are 24 character strengths you can turn to in any moment. When you pause, you short-circuit your autopilot mind, mindlessness, and the barrage of spinning thoughts. You refocus and get clarity on what matters most in that moment. This helps you remember you have powerful strengths that can be immediately