Mindfulness is a powerful tool that can help us live in the present moment and become aware of our thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. It is a practice that can be used to reduce stress, increase focus, and cultivate a sense of peace and wellbeing. The four Ts of mindfulness are body mindfulness, breath mindfulness, thought mindfulness, and total relaxation. Body mindfulness is the first foundation of mindfulness.
It's about recognizing the body as a body, something that is experienced as a collection of parts, not as a solid, unified thing. Some ways to experience mindfulness of the body include: noticing how your body feels when you move, paying attention to your posture, and being aware of any tension or tightness in your muscles. The first exercise is very simple, but the power, the result, can be very great. The exercise is simply to identify inhalation as inhalation and exhalation as exhalation.
When you inhale, you know that this is your inhalation. When you exhale, you are aware that this is your exhalation. So the third exercise is to become aware of your body. When you practice mindful breathing, the quality of your inhalation and exhalation will improve.
There is more peace and harmony in your breathing, and if you continue to practice that way, peace and harmony will penetrate the body and the body will benefit. Whether you're sitting, lying down, or standing, you can always release tension. You can practice total relaxation, deep relaxation, sitting or lying down. As you drive your car, you may notice the tension in your body. You're anxious to get there and don't enjoy the time you spend driving.
When you reach a red light, you're anxious for the red light to turn into a green light so you can continue. But the red light can be a sign. It can be a reminder that there is tension in you, the stress of wanting to get there as quickly as possible. If you recognize it, you can use the red light. You can sit back and relax, take the ten seconds that the light is red to practice conscious breathing and release tension in the body.
When you practice conscious breathing, you simply allow your breathing to occur. You realize it and enjoy it. The same goes for mindful walking. Every step helps you touch the wonders of life. It's estimated that 95% of our behavior runs on autopilot - something I call a “fast brain” - because neural networks are the basis of all our habits and they reduce our millions of sensory inputs per second to manageable shortcuts so that we can function in this crazy world. These predetermined brain signals are like highway signals; so efficient that they often cause us to relapse into old behaviors before we remember what we intended to do instead. Mindfulness helps us live in the moment by allowing us to recognize these autopilot behaviors and take control over them.
By becoming aware of our thoughts and feelings in each moment we can make conscious decisions about how we want to respond rather than relying on our habitual reactions. The four Ts of mindfulness - body mindfulness, breath mindfulness, thought mindfulness, and total relaxation - provide us with tools for living in the present moment with greater awareness and intentionality. By practicing these four Ts regularly we can cultivate greater peace and wellbeing in our lives.