How has mindfulness changed your life

coping with stress (14)


Everyday life is your practice course


Basically, you can always be mindful. The challenge is not to forget! The more you practice, the more often you will think about it.

Simplify tip: Use the numerous opportunities in everyday life to practice mindfulness, e.g. B. when climbing stairs, when picking up the telephone receiver, when washing dishes, when showering. Ask yourself, depending on the situation: “Do I really feel the water on my skin when I shower, its temperature, how it runs down my body, how does it feel? How do I feel when the water is turned off? Reaching for the towel? How do the individual movements feel in the body? Or am I already somewhere else in my mind? Where am I? What do I think?

By connecting with what you are doing, you bring your mind and body together and become more and more present in your life. This means that you are less controlled by the autopilot (set link) and old patterns, but act much more consciously.


The inner observer gives you space


In everyday private and professional life there are always situations that put you immediately into autopilot mode because you are emotionally affected. An example: Your colleague reminds you by e-mail that she urgently needs documents from you. As you process this message internally, evaluations and emotions arise. You sense anger rising. They have the impulse to set themselves apart: "Nobody sees how much I actually have to do ..., everyone just wants something from me ..., I'm fed up with always only being there for others." You write a harsh reply email to the colleague, who should be patient because you have more important things to do. This behavior has consequences, at least for your relationship between you and the colleague.

But wait: there is a gap between the triggering email and your reaction! If you use this to become aware of what is going on inside you, you step out of autopilot mode.

Simplify tip: Conquer this space between stimulus and reaction! All you need to do is activate your inner observer. For our example this means: You are reading your colleague's email. Evaluations and emotions arise. Your inner observer perceives this and feels how it feels in your body. Thanks to him, you are completely in touch with yourself at this moment. What are you experiencing right now? In which larger context can your experience be embedded? You have the opportunity to reflect and decide how to respond appropriately to the situation. Only after you have carefully considered the moment do you write your answer.

You can expand this space between stimulus (= the colleague writes something) and reaction (= you answer) through regular mindfulness practice. It prevents you from getting caught up in thoughts or from being overwhelmed by negative emotions. Instead, it is up to you to decide what thought or feeling you want to follow and where you want to draw your attention. Over time, your in-between becomes a place of transformation.


Testing is above studying


Mindfulness is difficult to develop intellectually. If you want to go deeper, we recommend z. B. MBSR training that mindfulness teachers offer in many cities. MBSR stands for "Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction" and means "coping with stress through the practice of mindfulness". In the 8-week course program that Jon Kabat-Zinn developed in the 1970s, you will learn about formal mindfulness practice and informally incorporate mindfulness into everyday life. It supports you in your everyday challenges, be it through stress, difficult emotions, pain or interpersonal communication situations. Numerous studies have now proven the health-promoting effects of this program!


This article was created in collaboration with Elke-Olivia Hermann, graduate social worker, psychological consultant and teacher for stress management through mindfulness, MBSR, in Karlsruhe.


Coping with stress with Zen exercises



The proven mindfulness exercises of Thich Nhat Hanh


To live completely in the here and now without rushing and to really feel yourself again - for many other people this is one of the most beautiful things on vacation. But you can not only allow yourself to do this on vacation! The Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh advises: Be mindful of yourself and your surroundings - and you will also feel happy, lively and relaxed in everyday life. Here are some of his exercises from the Buddhist tradition, prepared in a simplistic way for coping with stress.


The key to mindfulness: your breath


Your breath is an expression of your life. Notice it now! Where do you feel it? In the chest, stomach or nose? What is its temperature? How long is the inhalation phase, how long is the exhalation phase? Is there a break in between? If you find it difficult to feel your breath, put your hand lightly on your stomach. Do not try to control your breath - your attention will make it calmer and deeper on its own after a while (abdominal breathing).


For every day and for emergencies


Regardless of whether you are at home, on the go or at work: stop and take your breath throughout the day. Every time you start a new activity (such as turning on the kettle, making a phone call, or driving out of the car), take a few mindful breaths. Help your attention by saying internally, “I breathe in and I know I breathe in. - I breathe out and I know that I breathe out. ”Put a small reminder, e.g. a printed out Tiki picture, next to the phone as a reminder.

Once you have got used to this little exercise, you can also use it profitably in difficult situations, when a strong negative feeling (fear, anger, despair) threatens you like a hurricane. Sit down with your feet firmly on the floor. Or lie down and place a hot water bottle on the lower abdomen so that it is comfortably warm. Now focus your attention exclusively on your breath, especially on your lower abdomen - until the storm has passed.


Use your ways



Do you often rush from one place to another, from one appointment to the next in everyday life and are still thinking about what is behind you, or are you already thinking of what is about to await you? Use the little ways you walk to get back to yourself in the present. Get out of the house on time so you don't have to run to the bus stop. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Most of the time, the few minutes or even seconds that you need longer do not matter! Take a steady pace and concentrate solely on walking. Helpful here: Measure the breaths with your steps. How many steps do you take when you inhale and how many do you take when you exhale? Watch your breathing change as you climb or descend stairs. If you practice this on quiet walks, it will be easier for you in everyday life.


Smile at your life


Smile relaxed. This applies not only to most of the facial muscles, but also to the entire body and mind. When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself, "I'll wake up and smile." Not because your life is perfect or because something extraordinary is waiting for you that day. Just smile knowing that you are alive and that there are 24 new hours ahead of you that you can shape yourself. Regardless of how tight you are and how much time you have! Because how you do your duties and how you meet the people you (forcibly) meet is up to you. If you think of your day with this mindset, your smile will not be a mask put on.

Smile at yourself (in the mirror), at other people, but also at the objects you use: the faucet, the cloakroom, your car. With your smile you express your attention and your joy: “I perceive that you are there and I am happy.” Practical side effect: In this way you will carry out your daily chores less mechanically and less often with questions like “What did I actually want to fetch it in the basement? "

A good start to practice: smile when you fall asleep in the dark - nobody can see it, but you relax in a whole new way.




With a simple meditation you can focus your attention on individual parts of your body. The basic formula: “When I breathe in, I am ... aware. Exhaling, I smile ... ”Instead of the dots, insert what you want to be mindful of, e.g. B: “When I breathe in, I am aware of my muscles. Exhaling, I smile at my muscles. "

The following exercise is suitable for relaxation and stress management: “I breathe in and become aware of my whole body. I breathe out and allow my body to relax. "

Thich Nhat Hanh: Enjoy every moment.