FOUR SIMPLE WAYS TO BE MORE MINFDUL
What is Mindfulness?
Mind-fulness = having a full mind? Reading those two words apart from one another suggests mindfulness is some act of brain overstimulation - when really, it’s the opposite. The social buzz word mindfulness plays in the same league as breathwork, bulletproof coffee, paleo, gua sha and Pilates: it’s in everyone’s mouth in the wellness industry, but what it is and how it works isn’t obvious.
Mindfulness is our capability of being fully present in a moment, to be attentive to our thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations without judging. There’s a lot of different ways to get to this state of being, but from what we see today in society, it seems harder and harder for people to be mindful when dealing with information overload on their phones and desktops, with the constant pressure to be productive and always available, and with our attention spans getting shorter and shorter.
Incorporating mindfulness into our lives may have more benefits than you would think, as scientific evidence suggests. ‘When we practice being mindful, we’re slowing our breathing and decreasing activity in our sympathetic nervous system, aka our fight-or-flight response.’ says Dr Shaliza Shorey, Psy.D., a Clinical Neuropsychologist and the Co-President of the American Association of Pain Psychology. ‘Even conditions that are believed to be purely medical, such as autoimmune illnesses, diabetes, asthma, etc., are managed much better in regular meditators versus those who don’t use [mindfulness] techniques,” she says. In addition, mindfulness assists in better sleep, better cognitive and emotional functioning as well as reduced anxiety.
HOW CAN WE BE MORE MINDFUL?
Becoming and being mindful can look very different for everyone, but it starts with baby steps - as does everything that can be nourished and grow into something powerful. Being mindful is about slowing down just as much as it is about finding your unique way of exercising it in a sustainable way.
MEDITATION AND BREATHWORK
Some people may want to start their mindful journey with a one minute meditation in which they pay close but non-judgmental attention to their thoughts, their breath, their body and their basic senses (hearing, smell, taste). Meditation and breathwork techniques are numerous and they can last from 1 to 90 minutes, or longer. For me, even just 10 minutes of mindful breathing in the morning can make the whole day have a different candy colour.
A good way of achieving mindfulness throughout the day is to just stop for a second, even if this seems impossible when the next meeting is 5 minutes away, the kids are crying for snacks and your in-laws are coming over. Closing your eyes, taking three deep breaths and just focusing on what you can hear and smell can help a lot with resetting the nervous system and finding some clear thoughts in order to be less reactive in stressful situations.
Aligning movement with breath in Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi and other gentle exercise practices can greatly assist in achieving above mentioned results.
It’s the intention that counts. Once you decide to be more mindful, you’ll find it easier throughout the day to stop, breathe and observe instead of react. Take a break, not only because you deserve it, but because your body and brain will make up 1000 fold for the ‘lost time’ you thought you couldn’t take out of your day.
Written by Kim Diandra Sippel, Pilates Instructor and Wellness Ambassador
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