Mindful STOP: The Happiness Plan by Dr Elise Bialylew

Mindful STOP: The Happiness Plan by Dr Elise Bialylew


When we practise worrying, the worrying circuits of the brain are reinforced. When we practise gratitude, the brain becomes more capable of noticing the good in our lives. When we practise mindfulness meditation, it forms new neural pathways that support focus, calm and emotional balance. And with daily practice, you may notice that you …

  • Get less stressed by situations that may have previously caused you greater stress.
  • Feel more focused at work.
  • Are more present in your communication with family and friends.
  • Sleep better.
  • Worry less.
  • Are more aware of your body and its signals.
  • Are more aware of your feelings.
  • Have the ability to pause before reacting.
  • Feel a sense of being part of something bigger than yourself.

Bring mindfulness of the body to ordinary moments in your day

The Mindful STOP

This practice is a way of pausing and physically catching your breath throughout the day. It’s a quick and simple way to remember to connect with yourself, which creates greater potential for presence and wisdom in daily life.

Steps to practising the mindful STOP

S – Stop.

T – Take three mindful breaths, feeling the sensation of the breath flowing.

O – Observe the body, notice any tension and actively let it go.

P – Proceed with your day.

Set an alarm on your phone to ring at four random times during the day with the word STOP. You could also write the word STOP on some sticky notes and leave them in places you regularly see, such as the shower, the toilet, on your laptop, or in your car. When you see these reminders, pause for a few moments to practise the STOP exercise. As you continue to practice the guided body scan each day and the STOP practice this week, remember that the purpose of mindfulness is not to create a particular state of mind, but rather to be aware of whatever state is present.

Just like getting physically fit, you need to commit to the practice to experience the results of a mind that is functioning at its best.

The Mindful Shower

Rather than being lost in thought during your shower, direct your attention to your senses as a way of anchoring yourself to the present moment.

The four steps to having a mindful shower

  1. Once you’re in the shower and the water is on, bring your attention to the sensations of water touching your skin.
  2. Feel the temperature.
  3. Tune in to sounds and listen to the water.
  4. When you notice the mind has become lost in thinking and you’ve lost touch with the feeling of water on your body, gently bring your attention back to the body and sense the water on your skin.

A mindful tea break

  • Tune in to your sense of sight and notice the colour of the tea.
  • Tune in to the smell of the tea.
  • Tune in to your sense of touch and feel the warmth of the cup on your skin and the temperature of the tea in your mouth.
  • Tune in to taste as you sip your tea and notice the different flavours and where in your mouth you sense taste.

Mindful driving

  • Tune in to the touch and feel of your hands on the steering wheel and your body in the seat. Notice your posture and release any tension in the body as you drive.
  • Tune in to the sight of cars around you, notice the colour of the car in front of you.
  • Tune in to sound and experiment with turning the radio off and simply driving in silence.


This is an edited extract from Dr Elise Bialylew’s new book, THE HAPPINESS PLAN (Affirm Press), $24.99. Available now at all good bookstores and online.