Why Should You Be Practicing Mindfulness?
Life is hectic right now with constant and numerous changes, as we begin this process of adjusting to a new way of being as we transition from a life of quarantine. We are in the midst of sorting out what we are comfortable with, what choices we should make regarding going back to work outside the home, what to do with the children, how to navigate through our regular demands of everyday life in the midst of adding all the COVID-19 rules, regulations and ways of being. We've always been a culture in which we pride ourselves on multitasking and being busy, but all this new has the potential, if it hasn't already to completely wipe us out.
We have lost track of the present moment. We are missing out on our lives. We are buried in our lives, choices and feelings, just trying to get everything done.
When is the last time you really stopped and looked around? When is the last time you took in the scenery? When was the last time you accepted your feelings, your current reality? That is the practice of mindfulness and its benefits can be so powerful, they can actually change your brain.
So what is mindfulness? Kristen Neff, PhD and Christopher Germer, PhD in their workbook "The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook" define it as "awareness of present-moment experience with acceptance." They continue to explain that "mindfulness gives us mental space, and with mental space comes the freedom to choose how we might like to respond to a situation."
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
Well-Being: Mindfulness makes it easier to absorb life’s moments as they occur. When you are mindful you are fully absorbed in activities, fully present in the moment. It is easier to deal with unpleasant events because rather than having the day’s events compound one another, you deal with one, you accept it, and you move on. You aren’t caught up in worrying about the future or the past. You are soaking up the present.
Physical Health: Going hand-in-hand with well-being, mindfulness is great for your body. It reduces stress, leading to lower blood pressure, improved sleep, and the ability to alleviate chronic pain and gastrointestinal difficulties. If you are happier, you will have greater self-respect and feel better.
Mental Health: Mindfulness and meditation have been used frequently in the treatment of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and conflicts with others, among other things. If you are in the moment you aren’t worrying about what happened earlier or what is happening later. You aren’t dwelling on the what-ifs and the unknowns. You are being brought down-to-earth, out of your brain and into the physical place you stand.
Acceptance of What Is: Being mindful forces you to accept your present moment, instead of avoiding it. Some experts suggest the reason mindfulness works so well is it forces you to work through a conflict when it happens. It reduces avoidance and aversions by forcing you to accept and be part of life as it is happening.
There are several ways to begin your practice of mindfulness and to ultimately “train” your brain to be more present each and every day. There are an array of resources online, applications for your phone or tablet, books, retreats, etc. A licensed mental health professional can also help. Getting started might seem difficult because, after all, we are all very busy, but it will get easier as you go.
Ways to practice Mindfulness today
Schedule a time to be alone, undisturbed. You might choose the early morning or late evening where you can separate yourself and practice the stillness of the moment. Some complete this through just laying/sitting still, others journal.
Pick an ordinary activity. You might choose to lose yourself in your morning or evening habits such as brushing your teeth, showering, making coffee/tea or getting ready for the day.
Choose a sensory experience. You may choose to go for a walk, sit out in nature (front porch/back yard), take a leisure swim, jump on the trampoline, etc.
KEY: Become aware and be kind to yourself with a relaxed, focused mind! Think focused relaxation.
"Meditation offers your mind the opportunity, the potential to step back, and to get a different perspective, to see that things aren't always as they appear. We can't change every little thing that happens to us in life, but we can change the way that we experience it. That's the potential of mediation, of mindfulness." ~ Andy Puddicombre
The therapists at Traveling Light Counseling specialize in helping clients achieve personal happiness. We welcome the chance to discuss an individualized plan to meet your needs be it that of cultivating the habit of mindfulness in your everyday life or becoming a healthier, stronger version of self. Contact us at 772-361-8448 to learn more.