How to Keep Track of Mindful Moments

How to Keep Track of Mindful Moments

Healthline |
22 February 2017

As we start a new year, it’s the perfect time to prepare to become more mindful. Mindfulness is simply conscious awareness of what’s happening in the present moment—not in the past or future.

The American Psychological Association (APA) reports that mindfulness has many benefits including stress reduction, memory improvement, and better focus. When you take the time to track your moments of mindfulness, you’ll be better prepared to build on them and turn greater awareness into a healthy habit. Here are three steps to successful tracking:

Step One: Recognize Mindful Moments

If you don’t have a clear sense of when you are being mindful, you won’t be able to easily track times of mindfulness. To recognize a mindful moment:

  • First, slow down. Mindfulness often begins with an intention to focus on something, such as your breath.
     
  • Once you consciously slow yourself down, begin to notice your breath going in and out of your body.
     
  • Next, become aware of your thoughts as you breathe. Even if your mind wanders, you can still be mindful.
     
  • Simply become aware that you’re thinking about something other than your breathing, and gently return your attention to your inhaling and exhaling.

Once you are able to focus on your breath and notice when your thoughts wander, you have recognized a mindful moment! Prepare to record it. (See Step Three.)

Step Two: Use Deep Breathing

Sometimes you might find yourself becoming mindful without thinking much about it. But most of the time—particularly as a beginner to mindfulness—you may need to intentionally create a mindful moment.One of the best ways to do this is through a deep-breathing exercise.

To breathe mindfully:

  • Simply be aware as you inhale that you’re taking an in-breath.
     
  • Then as you exhale, be aware of making an out-breath.
     
  • If you find yourself thinking about other things, don’t feel discouraged.
     
  • Keep returning your thoughts to your natural process of breathing first in, and then out.

Step Three: Understand Tracking Options

Now that you know both how to recognize and also to create mindful moments, it’s time to capture them by using a reliable tracking system. There are several different tracking methods that you might consider:

  • Paper and pen. The simple recording method of writing down your moments of mindfulness in a notebook is an excellent option. Using basic tools like a favorite writing instrument and journal can help create a sense of peaceful purpose around your mindfulness practice.
     
  • Computer log. If you prefer electronic tracking, you don’t have to get fancy about it. Simply open up a blank page on your computer in a program like Word or Pages, and type in your moments of mindfulness, labeling by date. You might also try a specific spreadsheet program like Excel, which can make organizing your entries easier.
     
  • Mindfulness apps. Specific apps can help you track various aspects of mindfulness. Check out HealthAhead’s list of some of the top mindfulness apps.

Now You Know How to Track Your Mindfulness

Keeping track of your successes can help you stay motivated to reach your goals. Make mindfulness a priority this year, and use tracking methods to help you capture each important moment of awareness and attention.