5 Ways for the Bereaved to be Mindful in the New Year

Author: Heather Stang

Every January, the beginner classes at my meditation center fill up with people wanting to make a lifestyle change. They show up ready to ease anxiety, reduce stress, improve their health or to find a way to cope with grief.

Research proves that mindfulness can help with any stress-related complaint. I get to witness first-hand how training your mind on the present moment with a calm, relaxed and compassionate attitude creates a sense of well-being.

But if we aren’t careful, our mindfulness practice can seem like just another task on an already too long and daunting to-do list. It can get pushed to the back burner with the promise, “I’ll meditate tomorrow,” or the thought, “I don’t have the energy for that.”

So, how does someone become more mindful? By paying attention to what you already do!

Person kneading dough

Mindfulness is often associated with seated meditation, but you don’t have to sit cross-legged on a cushion to practice. Sitting meditation does help build resilience to face challenges in your daily life, but paying attention to even the most mundane tasks can have cumulative benefits.

There are many “informal” ways you can incorporate mindfulness into your day. Here are just a few based on tasks we already have to do — grocery shopping and eating.

1. Grocery Store Checkout Line Body Scan
While waiting in line, systematically pay attention to the physical sensations in your body. Feel your feet. Then work your way up through the major muscle groups.

2. Mindfulness of Our Shared Humanity
Acknowledge that even though you know nothing about the person in front of you, you share the same basic desires to be happy and free from suffering.

3. Cook with Gratitude
One of the most basic human needs is nourishment, yet we take for granted that not everyone has easy access to food. Whether you’re able to prepare a whole meal or pop a frozen pizza into the oven, do so with gratitude.

4. Savor Each Bite
Eat slowly. Use all six senses. Pay attention to the color, texture, smell, taste, thoughts and even the sound of each bite.

5. Just Wash the Dishes
Give your mind a break from thinking and ruminating. Simply feel the suds and the warm water on your hands. There will be plenty of time to think — later.

How can you bring more mindful moments into your life this New Year?

From the pen of…
Heather Stang is the author of “Mindfulness and Grief,” and facilitates the online companion program Transform Your Life After Loss with Meditation, Movement and Journaling. She holds a master’s degree in Thanatology and is a certified yoga therapist. Heather is the founder of the Frederick Meditation Center and runs mindfulnessandgrief.com.