Find calm, inner peace and balance in your life: Be a mindful woman

Apr 24, 2008 at 3:12 p.m. ET

Imagine a day, despite a bevy of stressful events, you are able to maintain a clear head and sense of balance. Do you feel that even days without an onslaught of stress prove difficult to feel grounded. Today's woman is striving to "do it all" and, in the process, forgetting to take care of herself. Juggling family, work and other obligations leaves little time for her to self-nurture. Sue Patton Thoele, author of The Mindful Woman, has a message for all women: A few mindful moments can help you restore that coveted calm and balance in your life as well as open your heart to happiness. Here are a few ways to practice mindfulness every day.

Calm Woman in Bed
You might be thinking there is no way you could possibly fit one more activity into your day, especially if it involves taking time for yourself. But, even the busiest of women have the ability to embrace mindfulness and will reap the benefits of doing so!

Mindfulness is more than just filling your head full of thoughts. It is about intention. Mindfulness is being aware of yourself and your surroundings, consciously and kindly focusing on life as it unfolds and being present in the happenings. Mindfulness can happen in moments, giving you the chance to include it into your daily activities. By truly living in the moment (even if its just occasionally, at first), you will experience a wonderful array of health-promoting benefits for both your mind and body.

Practice Mindfulness – Even if you do have a busy life

1. Begin with breathing

Patton Thoele says, "The first thing you ever did for yourself was breathe. And consciously focusing on your breath remains the epitome of self-care throughout your entire life. Breath is both starter and sustainer." Breathing is an essential pillar of overall health.

Practice: Before getting out of bed, intentionally focus on your breath. Take at least seven deep, conscious breaths and thank each breath for faithfully sustaining from the first moment of your life until now. Incorporate deep refreshing and calming breaths throughout your day. You will feel more energized, more relaxed and more appreciative of your body.

2. Look, listen and feel

Intentionally taking in your surroundings and yourself, you can begin to see beauty in the world around you and within you. "Pausing to take note of what you are seeing, hearing and feeling is an incredibly important touchstone for mindful living," explains Patton Thoele. She adds, "A few 60-second check-ins a day can make an amazing difference in how you feel and can lay the groundwork for building mindful habits."

Practice: Experience life with all of your senses. You can sit with your senses, eat with your senses, move with your senses, do everything with your senses. It takes conscious effort to hear, feel, see, smell and taste the many things you experience every day. Practice breathing while opening yourself up to sense everything around you. You will move yourself from "sleep living" to mindfully living, enriching your life no matter what you are engaged in doing.

3. Take Timeouts

They worked when you were little and they can work to reduce your adult levels of stress now. When you were young, your parents gave you timeouts to give you a chance to calm down, defuse your anger or have some time to think about why you are getting the time out. As an adult, you can use timeouts as reward, rather than punishment, but still benefit from the calm and introspection they provide.

Practice: As soon as you feel your energy waning, take a five to ten-minute timeout to breathe deeply, feel calm, and engage your senses. Thoele Patton recommends refreshing yourself with at least three short, rejuvenating timeouts throughout your day. You can put your hand over your heart and feel it beating – and feel the beats slow down as you let the wave of calm comfort you.

4. Accept the Many Facets of Your Personality

Have you ever noticed that you change personalities to fit a mood or occasion? Patton Thoele refers to these as subpersonalities, and she encourages you enjoy all of them, even the ones you would rather not have. She says, "We are always choosing between personalities…and accepting and understanding your subpersonalities gives them an environment in which they can heal, transform and express the positive qualities inherent within them." Every aspect of yourself is inherently valuable and worthwhile.

Practice: Become acquainted with one subpersonality this week and give her a name. Then explore what she wants and needs from you and what purpose she serves. Then to the best of your ability, give her what she needs – in essence, you will be giving yourself what you need.

5. Tame Your Monkey Mind

Mindfulness helps you feel grounded and focused because it allows you to calm your mind when its on overdrive. In order to stop the stress of thinking and doing too much at once, it is important to notice that your thoughts and actions are overwhelming you. This state of overload prevents you from experiencing inner peace or the beauty that could be present in the current situation.

Practice: Focus on a single thought and stay with it for a few minutes. Explore its purpose, meaning, and usefulness. If you feel yourself drifting to other thoughts, start over and stay with one thought only. This helps to eliminate the mental chatter and tames the wild monkey mind. You will eventually feel much more centered because your mind isn't buzzing with a myriad of related and unrelated thoughts.

As Thich Nhat Hanh says, "Mindfulness doesn't cure all, but it always cures. It corrects the mind's natural tendency toward dispersion, diffusion, and agitation, redeploying mental energy toward insight, clarity and wellbeing."

A few minutes of mindfulness can make a world of difference in how you feel and act. You will ultimately bridge your mind and body and experience increased energy, inner spaciousness and clarity, and become much more self-intuitive. You will be able to experience life fully and, in doing so, live a much more enriched and fulfilling existence.

To learn more about being a mindful woman, pick up your copy of The Mindful Woman.

For more articles on women's health, visit our Women's Health article archive.