A topic that is hot these days. Do you have a non-judgmental awareness of the present moment?
Did you know that focusing on the present moment benefits more than just your mental outlook? Some latest research shows it can also keep your whole body happy and healthy. Thousands of studies have looked into the inner workings of this topic and the findings are brimming with fascinating information!
So how does mindfulness play a significant role in someone’s life, if they truly worked at it?
On the physical level, studies suggest that practicing mindfulness can lower inflammation, improve pain tolerance and potentially reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity. Did you know that being mindful of the food you are eating by taking time to chew slowly and appreciate every bite has been known to improve digestion? It helps your body break down the food and use it as energy. Spending even as little as 10 minutes a day focusing on your breath and being mindful of your surroundings can help balance your hormones making your entire day more enjoyable.
Some studies suggest mindfulness can increase immune system function, likely because it reduces the stress signals that are known to lower immunity.
Because mindfulness can help us to both tolerate and regulate the intensity of our emotions, it can be a great pathway to a more positive outlook. People who focus a little bit of their day on be present report fewer feelings of stress, anxiety and low mood. Can you imagine what that could do for those tough days at work?
Mindfulness has been shown to improve the ability to focus, regulate intense emotion and cue our stress response system to settle down and relax. Practicing mindfulness on a daily basis helps us to develop a laser focus on tasks and are less likely to be distracted. As a result, we become better retainers for information. We are also more inclined to make better decisions when we are in a state of calm, which puts a disruption in negative behaviour.
A mindfulness practice is not always blissful and calm, especially at the beginning.
It requires noticing the wandering mind and gently leading it back to the focus of attention, often the breath, time and time again. It is about being okay with whatever arises in a non-judgmental, kind and accepting way and eventually gaining insight into how we live our life. The key is to carve out time in your hectic schedule to practice mindfulness regularly. It is a skill that we have to learn through practice. Each time we meditate or focus on one thing in a present way (watching a tree blow in the wind), we are interrupting with our natural tendency to worry and stress out and we really start to rewire and strengthen the areas of the brain involved in positive phycology.
Set aside sometime each day to be mindful and you may start to notice yourself feeling calmer, better able to focus and more awake and aware in your day-to-day life.
Tips for developing an easy mindfulness practice (meditation).
1- Keep it short and sweet. 10 minutes a day is a great place to start
2- Resist trying to make sense of the thoughts that come up.
3- Do not try and reach any conclusions of what you are thinking.
4- Avoid being judgemental of what pops into your head.
5- Just do it and then let it go and carry on with your day. The benefits of mediation will seep its way into your life with no effort.
6- Let your memories of past meditations go. Every time you meditate, act as if it is your first time. Be gentle with yourself
7- Allow yourself to be surprised.
A meditation practice should not feel like you are dying a slow death or wasting time. It should feel like a pleasant break in your day. If it is hard for you to sit with your thoughts for 10 minutes or longer it means you have judgement and high expectations of your practice. You need to let it all go. Just sit. See what comes up. Acknowledge and let it go. Over and over. Once you strengthen this muscle, sitting in silence alone will be enjoyable and you will gain a positive curiosity in what thoughts pop up in your head.