Before leaving town last week I had the opportunity to attend a discussion on mindfulness. During the session, our facilitator shared a simple technique to help invoke mindfulness at any moment in our busy lives.
The S.T.O.P. technique is well-known in the Mindfulness-Based-Stress Reduction Community, but was new to me, and I want to share it with you. The practice is simple:
Stop: Before falling into a reflexive response, simply be still in the midst of whatever is happening.
Take a breath: Harness the power of conscious breathing to anchor you in the present moment and bring greater clarity to your self and circumstances.
Observe: Pay attention to what you see and feel - without judgment or expectation.
Proceed: Use the information you have gathered by stopping, breathing, and observing to move forward, hopefully in a more wise and considered way. Be open to the possibility that the best way to proceed may be to take no action at all.
This technique does not require much time at all - it can all take place in a matter of seconds, depending on the situation. At other times it might require withdrawing from an emotionally charged situation and sitting with the breath for at least a few minutes before proceeding. What it really does is greatly expand our options for how best to respond to any given situation.
While listening to the explanation, I immediately saw its relevance for challenging or potentially combative situations, but during our jaunt across the pond, I recognized it also has great value in capturing and allowing us to more fully experience beautiful moments.
Can you S.T.O.P. this week? How might it help you better respond to the challenges or appreciate the blessings you encounter?