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December 15, 2020

12 Days of Mindfulness

Written by Amanda Burrafato, LMFT, LCAS

1. I spy:

Name as many objects that you can see within the room. Name as many colors as you can see.

2. Concentration, No repeats, No Hesitations:

Select a category (animals, girls names, bake goods, candies, games, sports teams, etc.) and name as many things in that category as you can.

3. Progressive relaxation:

Get comfortable, tighten the muscles in your feet and hold for 5 seconds, relax, tighten your leg muscles and hold for 5 seconds, relax, tighten your abs and hold for 5 seconds, relax, tighten your arms and hold for 5 seconds, relax, tighten your grip and hold for 5 seconds, relax, tighten your neck and hold for 5 seconds, relax, tighten/scrunch your face and hold for 5 seconds, relax, tighten your whole body and hold for 5 seconds, relax.

4. Press:

Go between the jam of a door, place your hands on either side of the jam and shoulder level. PRESS! Hold for ten seconds and release letting your arms flow out and down. Repeat. Press can also be done against a wall. Push as hard as you can to “move the wall” for ten seconds, relax.

5. Oxytocin release:

Give yourself a hand or foot massage. Focus on your joints, the texture of your skin, if you use any lotion focus on the sensations it provides.

6. Triangle Breathing:

“Inhale to the count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 4. Exhale to a count of 4. Continue this pattern for 3 to 11 minutes. As you breathe, you may find that you can extend the 4-count to a 5- or 6-count. Do what feels comfortable for you. If you begin to feel winded, just come back to the 4-count triangular breathing.” –

7. Guided Meditation:

Pick a memory that brings you joy. Focus on every detail of the memory. Sights, smells, touch, temperature, tastes. Drift away into this “happy place”, when your ready slowly return to the present.

8. Grounding Walk:

Take off your shoes and find a soft place to walk. Slowly walk forward intentionally touching your heel to the ground first followed by the ball of your feet and toes. Focus on the texture of the ground, the weight of your body shifting between your legs. (For different experiences explore new terrains, dirt, grass, sand, carpet, all will provide different sensations.)

9. Find a labyrinth:

Labyrinths are hidden throughout the world. They are tools for mindful walking that allow you to wind your way to its center and your own center. For instructions and how to locate one near you check out . Dedicate some time to adventure to one and follow the instructions laid out on the website.

10. Mindful Eating:

Select a food that you enjoy. Find a place where you can completely focus on what you are eating. Begin by observing the visible details of your snack, note texture, shape, weight, and temperature. Close your eyes and smell the snack. Hold the snack in your mouth and exam the texture with your tongue. Slowly begin to chew, eat as slow as possible paying attention to any changes in taste, texture and the experience of swallowing. (For an interesting experience try this with a bread item or cracker! If you chew slow enough the bite will turn sweet!)

11. Mindful Breathing:

“Sit quietly in a chair with both feet on the ground and your hands in your lap. Allow yourself to feel centered in the chair. Bring all of your attention to the physical act of breathing. Start to notice the breath as it enters your body through your nose and travels to your lungs. Notice with curiosity whether the inward and outward breaths are cool or warm, and notice where the breath travels as it enters and departs.” –

12. Objects that promote mindfulness:

Anything can promote positive “fidget” and focus. From an item of jewelry to a pen cap, twirl, view, focus, explore the objects around you with new vigor. Snow globes and things with moving glitter offer great stimuli as you watch the bits settle slowly at the bottom. Explore interesting textures with your fingers, anything can be an item that can ground and center you during rising anxiety.

    Dr. Sharon Kirlik, PhD, LCSW graduated with her Masters in Social Work (MSW) from the University of Georgia. Later, with the adoption of her African American son and then, her Haitian American daughter, she realized an even deeper passion for working with children and families who were societally marginalized and oppressed. Her interests have compelled her to travel throughout the countries of Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and India allowing her to become immersed in the respective cultures. While completing her PhD with distinction, Dr. Kirlik was publicly recognized in Chicago for her programs created to improve the quality of life for foster care children. Her programs later took her to several countries throughout the continent of Africa, and have won acclaim and recognition among many South African organizations and other government leaders.

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