health & fitness
The Power of Mindfullness
Stress is a common symptom of everyday life. Everyone has experienced it to some extent in their own way. A hint of stress can be a form of motivation, but long term stress is damaging to our bodies and our minds. It clouds our judgment, interrupts sleep patterns, and distracts us from the joys of life.
Stress often ironically arises when we are preparing for events that are meant to be cheerful and relaxing. Many of us have experienced such an emotional conflict concerning the holidays, but it does not have to be this way. With a mindful approach, the holiday season can be a time full of pure gratitude and delight.
What Is Mindfulness?
The practice of mindfulness has grown in popularity over the past few years, so it probably sounds familiar. It is defined as the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, and experiences regularly. In short, mindfulness is a fully aware and positive state of mind.
Moments of mindfulness are not restricted to specific individuals. You have likely experienced mindfulness and simply not had a name for it. It could have been an overwhelming sense of gratitude and love during a dinner with friends or an astounding sense of joy from taking the time to appreciate the beauty of wildflowers.
Whatever the event was, you were fully present and aware of that moment as it was taking place, without any creeping worries or stressful thoughts. If you are looking to experience more moments of mindfulness in your life, especially during the holiday rush, it only takes a few simple steps to get started.
How To Practice Mindfulness
Meditation is a completely customizable experience that does not require any purchases or prior knowledge. It has existed in historical religions and has been proven to have positive cognitive impacts by modern science.
To start, find a comfortable position where you can sit or lay down and be still. Then set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes, close your eyes, and focus inward until the timer goes off. Your focus can follow your breathing or the sensations of your body as you remain still. Some meditations even use imagination and visualization as a focusing point. As you focus you will notice your thoughts running wild, but don’t worry. Meditation is not about completely silencing your mind, it is about acknowledging your thoughts with kindness before attempting to refocus your mind.
If you have never meditated before it is helpful to attend a class, read a book, or listen to guided meditations while you practice. There are even apps for your phone that provide thousands of guided meditations, such as Insight Timer, Breathe, and Headspace. Oh, and did I mention they are free? Meditation comes in a variety of forms and there are countless teachers. Your perfect fit is out there, you just have to give it a try.
● Take A Moment
Practicing meditation daily is a great way to expand your ability to be mindful in a variety of situations. However, it may not always be practical to stop and meditate when you feel an overwhelming sense of stress or you are in the middle of a task. In these situations, it is best to exercise mindfulness by taking a moment.
Your moment can vary based on the situation you are in and your personal preferences. What matters the most is that you pause, whether it is for a few seconds or a few minutes, and draw your focus inward.
Here area few ways to practice taking a moment whenever you feel distant or stressed.
* Take a slow deep breath & focus on the feeling of your lungs filling and slowly releasing.
* Repeat a motivational mantra in your mind and focus on how it makes you feel.
* Identify a sensation, like the warmth of the sun on your skin, and find wonder in that sensation.
* Think of something or someone you are grateful for.
Meditation and taking a moment are powerful forms of self-care meant to help you live your best life. When you start practicing these actions you will begin to notice the sense of calm and control from mindfulness extending into your everyday life. So next time the turkey burns or holiday party planning gets you down, you will be prepared to face each challenge with a calm mind and an open heart.