I've been working out my physical body for years with cardio and weight training but I've learned this is only one part of overall health and well-being. Once I started flexing my mindfulness muscle, life became sweeter and I began to experience more peace. Now it has become a necessary daily workout :)
What is mindfulness? What's the benefit of being mindful? And what are some easy ways to do it?
In my opinion, working out my mindfulness muscle can be more challenging than a physical workout; developing self-awareness, sustained attention and getting in the moment without distraction can be hard to do! Mindfulness requires letting thinking about the past or future go. I was disappointed to hear that as I lOVE reliving the past and obsessing about the future, it's actually one of my hobbies :) On top of that, I love getting caught up in my day and immersed in my to-do list. But the reality is I lose focus on what's really important; my intimate connection with myself in this present moment.
Anytime I hear the impressive benefits of mindfulness, it renews my commitment to working out my mindfulness muscle. The list includes decreased stress-related cortisol, insomnia, symptoms of autoimmune illnesses, PMS, asthma, falling back into depression, general emotional distress, anxiety, and panic, and increased immune system factors, control of blood sugar in type 2 diabetes, detachment from reactions, self-understanding, and general well-being. For more see Rick Hanson and Jack Kornfield
Here are some simple ways to get in the moment and help you pop out of auto-pilot.
1. Body Check-in: Sit or lie down. Get curious about the sensations in your body. Notice sensations, vibrations, coolness or tension. Turn to them and become intimate with them as they shift and change. I like to do this when I'm early for a meeting and have a few minutes to spare.
2. Breathe: Take a seat. Inhale through the nose, exhale out the mouth, and stay with the breath until all the air has left your body. Then repeat 3 times. Being stuck in a traffic jam is an ideal time to do this provided you're not moving!
3. Savor the Good: When something nice happens, notice how this manifests physically. Where do you feel it? Can you sense a warm smile on your face? Then relish in the physical sensation. When a student tells me they are sleeping better due to our work together, I feel light in my body and a massive grin from cheek to cheek :)
4. Relish Daily Tasks: Bring curiosity and awareness to simple tasks. Next time you take a shower or do the dishes, notice how the water feels on your skin, the sound of the water or aroma of the shower gel.
5. Belly Grounding: The belly is known as the 'physical center of the emotional body'. Next time you feel disconnected and stressed, place your palms on your belly and take a few deep breaths and notice how they ground you.
Practicing these simple mindfulness techniques has helped me snap out of daydreaming, unnecessary planning for the future, and constructing stories. For me these are life's little gems in helping me get in the moment :)
What are your gems I'd love to hear how you get in the moment?