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Font size: + the shower. It could happen!


 Have you ever found yourself in the shower, uncertain if you’ve washed your hair or not?

That’s a good example of not being mindful: engaging in a familiar routine but checked-out and thinking about whether or not you’ll take the Casco Bay Bridge into Portland or avoid the bridge and cut through South Portland instead.

Alternatively, can you recall moments of locking into the sounds and sights of our beautiful beaches? The graceful, synchronized dance of the Plovers on Crescent Beach. Witnessing the stormy, raging waves crashing on the rocks at Fort Williams and the resulting sea spray.

Now we’re talking mindful moments: those times when our senses are pleasantly alert and we notice. We notice sights, sounds, and sensations without jumping ahead wondering “what’s next” or reflect on a past happening.

With multiple sources of distraction and demands for our attention, mindfulness is a practice, that can offer an alternative to racing thoughts and disengagement with what is.

I recently came across a simple definition of mindfulness that I appreciate: “Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment through a nurturing lens.” A nurturing lens. I like that part. No need to judge yourself for feeling distracted or “less than” you hoped you’d be. The definition is from the Greater Good magazine site; Greater Good Science Center explores “the roots of happiness and compassionate individuals, strong social bonds, and altruisitic behavior – the science of a meaningful life.”

They go on to say that while mindfulness has roots in Buddhist meditation, it’s a secular practice that has entered the American mainstream in recent years. You may have seen the cover of Time magazine a few years back, “The Mindful Revolution”; the article covers the many ways that mindfulness has found its way into our homes, hobbies, hospitals, work places, and spiritual practices.

There’s a great deal of science behind the benefits of mindfulness, which are multiple, including pain reduction, improved mood, enhanced empathy and compassion for others, increased attention span and better brain health.

Mindfulness isn’t all sunsets and delightful ocean breezes….we can apply mindfulness practices to challenging situations in a way that benefits our emotional and physical health. We do this by noticing difficult emotions as they arise, allowing the feelings to be felt vs. avoided or deflected. When we deny or push down difficult feelings, it can bring distress or dis-ease to our bodies and beings.

Next time you’re feeling anxious, frustrated, angry or scared, I invite you to try this:

When you notice a difficult emotion say to yourself: “I’m noticing anger and frustration (or whatever is being felt). I feel it in my jaw and the center of my chest. Both feel tight and tense.”

You’re now in the “witnessing” mode which gives some space to your experience.

Take three slow and steady breaths in and out of your nose; imagine you’re sending that breath to the parts of your body where you are feeling the tightness/upset/uncomfortableness. Continue breathing deeply, imagining you’re sending your breath to these places in your body.
If it helps, repeat the phrase to yourself again: “I’m noticing anger and frustration” and add the phrase “you have a place here.” Continue breathing deeply, focusing on your body, not trying to change anything. Simply notice and breathe.

Please be in touch if you try this practice; I’ll be interested to hear the results and whether you have any questions.



Martha Williams shares her passion for spiritual connection and optimal health and wellness in her yoga classes, through shamanic healing sessions and in her work with major retreat centers around the country. She teaches group yoga classes, private yoga in the home, and offers energy healing using ancient, indigenous practices. [email protected]


Note:  this piece originally appeared in the Cape Courier (Cape Elizabeth, ME) in March 2019. 

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