So, what is all the hype about “mindfulness” … and who’s got time for that crap?
The simple answer: You do, and so do I. Taking just 10 minutes out of your day to breathe, pray, meditate, or do a few yoga poses has an amazing return on investment for your body. Your low risk investment of 10 minutes in your own mental wellness will yield greater clarity, focus, increased productivity, improved resilience from stress, and more patience just to name a few key benefits.
What is mindfulness anyhow?
One definition of mindfulness is being present in the existing moment by paying full attention to what is going inside your system and around you. It is very helpful, though not necessary, to practice mindfulness daily through meditation or yoga. Mindfulness attained through these practices are beneficial because they are so easily translated into real life circumstances outside of the yoga studio or wherever you choose to spend your time
Why is this such a big deal?
Does it feel like your phone owns you most days? Are the combination of email, texts, calls and social media taking a toll on your availability to friends and family that are in the same room as you? If you answered “yes” to these questions, then you are probably like the rest of us checking our phones and average of 150 times per day. We are a society living in a state of constant distraction. How can we develop meaningful relationships and experience joy or spirituality when we are constantly stuck inside a screen?
Due to the state of societal distraction, we tend to eat mindlessly. We trend toward unnecessary calories, barely recalling what we have eaten and becoming hungry sooner than ever. We end up fatigued, which leads toward treating our loved ones poorly, working less effectively, and driving dangerously. Frankly, we compromise the needs of the people nearest and dearest to us.
This is why mindfulness has become such a hot buzz word as of late. We are a culture desperate to slow down and enjoy the fruits of our hard work and alleviate the brain drain of our distracted lives.
How can I live in the moment when my phone never stops dinging?
First, shut off the vibrations and ringer unless you are equivalent to a doctor on emergency call. (One time my husband, an ophthalmologist, was on call and his ringer was off accidentally…the ER was NOT amused!). Seriously, unless you deal in true emergencies, turn off notifications and set specific boundaries for when you will check email, social media and texts. Ask people not to text you unless they need an immediate response. That is what email is for. And it is fine to respond to email within 24 hours…not the second you get it. (I actually need to repeat this mantra myself).
Second, develop a mindfulness practice for at least 10 minutes per day. Try a meditation app such as Calm or Mind Space. There are several great ones out there. They play relaxing music and guide you through the meditation so you are not sitting in a quiet room trying to still your mind…You will calm down almost immediately while doing this. If you’d rather not meditate, read something uplifting, journal, or try a 10 minute yoga sequence. Yoga Journal has great free sequences available for all different amounts of time. Simply breathing in and out to the count of 10, 10 times is a very simple way to start a mindful practice.
Once you choose a mindfulness practice, make it a habit. It takes 21 consecutive days to form a habit so commit and then just do it!
What about mindfulness and eating?
Honestly, you just have got to slow it down. We consume way too many calories and then do not feel satiated because we inhale fast foods and never stop working or interacting with our electronic devices. TV is also a distraction when eating. Turn it all off. Pay attention to your food and actually chew it. The digestive process begins with chewing and then swallowing. The enzymes in saliva begin the breakdown process. When we gulp our food down, we tend to remember it more by its unpleasant after affects than by its true deliciousness. Try to put your fork down after every 2 bites to slow yourself down. Notice your sensory response to foods…sight, smell, taste, texture. ENJOY!
Let me know what your mindful practice is and whether it is something you have just started or have been doing. Most of us have some growth and development to do in this area so start now, and be a calmer, more focused and patient you!