Mindfulness Practice for Deepening Happiness by Erica Rayner-Horn
Mindfulness is a key skill for happiness and we can practice being mindful wherever we are. This means deepening our awareness of what is going on around us, what we can see, hear, touch and taste. And what's going on inside us in our thoughts and feelings. We learn to be aware of this flow of sensation and experience without getting "hooked!" We learn to notice and observe without getting caught up in it all.
1. Shift Your Attitude- "Happiness is Available in Every Moment."
This is a saying of my beloved teacher Thich Nhat Hahn that’s been a kind of koan for me as I try to remember in darker moments of life. I find that just remembering that the potential for happiness is always there – opens a new window of possibility.
2. We Are Wired to Focus on Negativity
Life is filled with simple sensations and beautiful moments – the problem is we don't notice them. It isn’t our fault! Actually, this is due to the structure of the brain and its "negativity bias” that predisposes us to focus on pain, trauma and what is wrong.
The brain is VELCRO for pain- TEFLON for pleasure!
As our brains evolved it was far more important for us to pay attention to experiences of threat and danger than it was to happy and peaceful experiences and so we literally have more circuits developed in our brains to register negativity. Our brains scan constantly for what is wrong, and for what may go wrong in the future. The neuroscientist Rick Hanson tells us: "most positive experiences flow through the brain like water through a sieve – while negative ones are caught every time!”
3. Slow Down and Notice the Good
To counteract this tendency of the brain we must focus more on practicing being aware of happy, fulfilling moments of positive experience e.g. the smile of a loved one, hearing birds sing or watching petals fall from the cherry tree.
Make it your daily practice to look for pleasurable experiences. When you take a warm shower, or soak in a bath tub appreciate how it feels. When you step outside, look up and see the sky, the moon and stars or the passing clouds, appreciate the wonders of this mysterious universe. Look down and notice a dandelion poking through the crack in the city pavement.
4. Holding the Good
When you are aware of beauty and pleasure don't just gloss over it- really take the time to let it soak in!
30 Second Rule
Breathe in this moment
Hold it in awareness for at least 30 Seconds!
Save it to The Hard-Drive!
Consciously let joy and delight soak into you, feeding every cell in your body, boosting your immune system and improving your health!
Enjoy each beautiful moment of your precious life!
Erica Rayner-Horn MA, LMHC
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