Mindfulness is a term being tossed around quite a bit in casual conversation these days – “be mindful of…x, y, and z”. Are we really being mindful? Or just saying so?
It’s no secret, we live distracted lives – and that’s different than being busy. We are constantly connected to technology either by texting, typing, or telecommuting. I am equally guilty of reading my social media feeds with rapt enthusiasm. Yes, we do need technology, but we also need (in greater amounts) a break from the noise, the stimulation, the media, the madness.
Connecting by Disconnecting
Mindfulness, like fitness and clean eating, is a daily practice and commitment. And, it can be quite the task to insert meaningful breaks throughout the day. An important quality to mindfulness practices that is often overlooked is the benefit such breaks provide. We benefit cognitively, physically, and emotionally from “taking 5” a few times a day.
These “tech free” techniques will not only make you feel refreshed and rejuvenated, they are teachable skills to share with your clients.
Mindful Movement. I personally love this technique as I do a lot of work at my computer writing, researching and teaching online classes. I utilize timers to work for an hour and walk for 5 minutes. I don’t take my phone on walks with me. I simply “unplug” for 5 minutes and allow my mind to go wherever it needs to for that amount of time. I come back, continue working, and then take another break.
Mindful Eating. How often do you connect with your meal? Taking time to taste first with your eyes and appreciate the nutritional value of what you are about to consume can calm the mind and allow you to focus on nourishment – not rushing through the meal to “get to the next thing”.
Connect with Your Breath. Breathing is an autonomic occurrence. We don’t have to think about. But what happens if we do engage in mindful breathing? Setting aside 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the afternoon or right before bed can improve mood, anxiety, and reduce negative thinking – three things that contribute to a distracted existence. Listen to calming music during the exercise or focus on a landscape scene to reduce outside distractions.
Practice Gratitude. How often do you get to the end of the day and think, “wow, that flew by”? When you reach the end of a long day, process what happened and identify and record three things you are grateful for. It’s easy to focus on the negative and the little annoyances that can derail us, but mindfully and purposely choosing to find the good changes our pattern of thinking.
Be an Observer. With the quickly passing hours in a day, try to take the time to observe your surroundings and take note of what is happening. This is a deliberate effort to be aware and “in the moment”. We spend far too much time focused on what is happening to us and not what is happening around Don’t miss out on the world around you.
Mindfulness, although often associated with Yoga and meditation, is more about a collection of concerted efforts to raise consciousness and sharpen awareness. Efforts of mindfulness transcend beyond an awareness of ourselves – it’s developing a greater appreciate for the life around us and developing ways in which we can nourish a mind-body-spirit connection.
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