So what is mindfulness anyway ?
We hear about it, we know we need to practice it and then we forget about it until someone reminds us to “kind to ourselves”, “be present” or “less reactive” in the endless push and pull for our attention.
Let’s face it - many are feeling a bit wired, worn out and exhausted so its easy to spark overwhelm. The good news it can be overcome with a bit of application of the mind and daily practice.
Like we predominantly breathe unconsciously, we also operate, most of the time, on auto-pilot and can thank the stars we made it through the day.
So just as we can apply conscious breathing to our days for all the health benefits that focused breathing has (see last weeks article) - we can also apply mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
Training your brain to be mindful and present is proving valuable to our brains.
Suspending judgment of ourselves and relaxing into the natural curiosity of the workings of our mind, approaching our experience helps to manage anxiety and stress. We don’t have to go somewhere, sign up to a class or get a professional - we juts need to apply it.
3 ways to practice it:
Pause and breathe: When the phone rings, when the emails pour in, acknowledge yourself and what state you are in. If “reactive” - slow down. Respond to what is needed mindfully.
Pay attention on purpose:
Listen with intent to hear, rather than react or respond. Consciously work on being present even when scrolling social media or reading or working on a project. Remove distractions as if in meditation and focus on what you intend to be doing. It’s harder than you think and takes effort to master.
Meditate and body scan:
Bring your mind back to your body. Focus on breathing. Scan your body for where you are holding the stress in the moment from shoulders to hips or even your jaw and think about releasing it consciously. Attaching emotions to the stress helps to process it. Anger, frustration, irritation, anxiety all cause pain in the body, consciously letting it go improves wellbeing. Relax the tension where you feel it.
Bringing awareness to what we are doing or experiencing via your senses is being mindful. Being conscious of your state of mind via your thoughts and emotions is being mindful.
There is growing research showing that when you train your brain to be mindful, you’re actually remodeling the physical structure of your brain.
We all know practice makes perfect… and while we may never be perfect we can certainly be better, stronger, wiser and more intentional.
It’s a way to be well.