Mindfulness is simply taking time to connect with your present experiences and thoughts. Mindfulness means rerouting your focus to the present moment, rather than worrying about what's already passed or what's yet to come. It is a form of connecting with your body and environment. In mindfulness, you can focus on your internal environment by engaging in breathing exercises or body scans, or you can focus on the external environment by taking time to intentionally notice the world around you.
Focusing on one thing may be a good end goal, but so much of our training is rooted in being able to take in many things and process them during emergencies. Other thoughts are bound to arise while practicing mindfulness. Don’t beat yourself up if it’s difficult to turn that impulse off. Just recognize additional thoughts as they arise and file them away to address later, just as you would a non-life-threatening injury during a primary assessment or a bystander at an arrest.
How do you practice mindfulness?
When people think of mindfulness, the first thing many think of is classic breathing exercises. This is one way to practice mindfulness, but there are plenty of other ways as well. It doesn't need to be complicated. The important part of mindfulness is to center yourself in the present moment, through meditation or just a brief pause to notice the way your toes feel in your duty boots on your way to a call. Try one of the methods below. It’s all about finding what works for you.
Body Scan: Run through your body and take a moment to intentionally notice how each part of your body feels, from your toes all the way through your head.
Tense and Release: Similar to the body scan, tense each part of your body individually and then relax it.
5-4-3-2-1: Notice 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel, 2 things you can smell, 1 thing you can taste about your current environment.
Walking/Jogging or Other Exercise: If you’ve ever found yourself with a clear relaxed mind or with clarity on a problem after a walk or a hike, you’re already practicing mindfulness!