FALL into Mindfulness: Five Easy Ideas for a More Present Season

I love fall.

To me, the fall season holds a promise of excitement and anticipation: school has started and the feeling of being “busy” settles itself deep into my day-to-day and week-to-week. There’s hustle and bustle around the big holidays, starting with Halloween and sprinting all the way through New Years. 

FALL into Mindfulness: Five Easy Ideas for a More Present Season
Preparing doesn’t have to add stress to your life– it can add awareness, too

But planning and keeping track of plans can be overwhelming. And I find that whenever my mind is spending most of its time in the future, taking steps to keep it {and myself} firmly rooted in the present is the best kind of self-care I can give myself.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the ability and practice of being fully present in each moment.

Simple, right? Except most of the time, we aren’t in that state.

I’m thinking of memories, joyful and painful, and sometimes relating them to my present. Or I’m planning, with worry, excitement, or anticipation for the future. Sometimes, I’m doing it for future scenarios that aren’t even likely to occur.

That’s when I know, I need to refocus on my practice. My mindfulness practice.

Mindfulness is my favorite kind of self-care because it’s free and I can do it anywhere.

When I regularly practice mindfulness, I notice three big differences in my thought patterns: I’m more grateful, I’m less anxious, and I enjoy life more.

If it sounds too good to be true, try it! Here are five simple ideas to guide you there:

BREATHE

I’m talking about fresh air. Temps are still hot in Houston but on days when the humidity is low, it really does feel like autumn. Finally!

My midwestern heart can’t wait to turn off the AC and open up the windows every fall. Breathing fresh air truly does something for my mood and mental state. I know open windows isn’t for everyone {you don’t know what you’re missing!} but if you can, step outside. Take ten slow breaths, in through your nose, out through your mouth. 

FALL into Mindfulness: Five Easy Ideas for a More Present Season
Don’t forget to breathe- outside whenever possible!

I also find peace in breathing in certain scents. I love fall scented candles and there are lots of fall recipes for essential oil diffuser blends. It may not be pumpkin spice or other traditional “fall” scents that bring you peace, but having scents that calm you down or bring you into a more mindful state is a useful tool. 

MOVE

Speaking of fresh air, I want to also recommend getting outside for exercise. Take a brisk walk or run, maybe roll out your yoga mat and stretch in your backyard. Feeling my body working makes me feel alive! And centering my mind on physical tasks feels so good. 

My mind has a tendency to just…wander. Trying to anchor it during movement is a challenge for me! I find repeating a simple mantra like “keep going” or “I’m worth it” to myself, whether silently or aloud, can re-focus me. 

And if the opportunity arises for you to really get into nature this fall- I can pretty much guarantee you peace and mindfulness hiking among the trees and leaves. 

FALL into Mindfulness: Five Easy Ideas for a More Present Season
Zen and happy me in the woods with my son. Fresh air and movement? It’s a win/win

PURGE

Seasons changing gets me in a mood to re-organize and get rid of the items in my home that no longer serve me or my family. I’m not telling you to Marie Kondo your house– I happen to like stuff!– but maybe getting rid of what’s broken, doesn’t fit, or has simply been outgrown will bring you the sense of satisfaction it always brings me. I find myself holding onto things that I’ll never use again for fear of some unforeseen future need. Mindfulness erases some of that fear for me. 

Why is getting rid of old items so satisfying?

PREP

Feelings of inadequacy can accompany fall for me. I’m not the crafty mom who sews or papier maches my kids Halloween costumes every year. I don’t single handedly whip up an amazing gourmet Thanksgiving dinner or hand-make thoughtful Christmas gifts. 

Remaining in a state of mindfulness while preparing for the future may seem contradictory, but I find it’s helpful for me to prepare for the pressures this season stirs in me so I don’t let myself become overwhelmed by them.

What can I do in this moment to make my life easier down the line? 

A more mindful holiday starts with practicing living in the moment.

Maybe it’s creating wish lists for your kids now and wrapping gifts as they arrive. Maybe it’s ordering holiday dinners instead of cooking this year. Maybe it’s just acknowledging that even if you aren’t the crafty, gourmet, super-planner mom you are just as deserving of a season full of gratitude, joy and love as the rest of them. And you deserve to be fully present for all these moments! 

GROUND

Ok, this may seem a bit “out there” to some of you, but hear me out. 

On those days {and nights} when I just can’t get out of my own head, I do a grounding exercise.

You can do this any time of day, but my preference is at night, especially when there are visible stars and moon. 

Step outside somewhere you can be barefoot on grass. Listen to the sounds around you. If its silent or filled with ‘people’ noise, try to tune it out. If you hear nature sounds {frogs or bugs chirping} match your breath to the rhythm.

Doing that mindful breathing (in through your nose, out through your mouth), focus on the sensations beneath your feet. Feel the damp, cool grass. Feel a connection to the earth. Gently roll your head forward, until your chin is resting near your chest. Look at the ground. Feel the sensation of the back of your neck being stretched. Breathe. 

Now, look up and roll your head up. Unclench your jaw. Feel the stretch at the front of your throat. Focus on the sensation. Breathe. 

Look up at the sky. Really see the stars. {When’s the last time you did?}

Just here, in this very moment.

Remember we are small but we are connected to the earth, to each other, and to the entire universe. 

We are small but we all have a purpose.

Inhale. Exhale. Be present in this moment. 


 

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Mary B. is a lifelong creative, dreamer, and joy seeker. Born and raised in northern Illinois, Mary attended the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, receiving her B.F.A. in acting, then worked as a sometimes actress/model, sometimes waitress. Mary and her husband got married in Sept 2012, welcomed a son in 2014, moved to Texas from Chicago in 2016, and welcomed a daughter in 2017, completing their family. She self-publishes her musings on marriage, motherhood, and life on her blog, Accidentally Texan,. In her free time {free time--ha!} Mary loves to read, cook {and eat ;)}, work out, swim, travel, and spend time with her family. Mary believes emotional connection is the root of humanity and our collective purpose in life.

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