Today, many integrative health care practitioners are encouraging us to be truly mindful of how we choose to feed our bodies, exercise, relax, and how we connect with others around us. It’s become so popular that even corporations, schools, and the military are offering mindfulness training.
What is Mindfulness?
When we practice mindfulness, it means we’re in the moment with no distractions. The mind is not wandering and even though thoughts are passing through the mind, we’re just watching them pass by without getting caught up in any emotions associated to the thoughts. It’s the opposite of “being on auto pilot”, which unfortunately is the way most of us lead our every day lives!
Sounds simple, right? Not exactly. It usually takes a concerted effort to remain in the moment, especially when just beginning to learn this process. However, it’s certainly worth the effort, as we can benefit from both a mental and physical perspective.
What are the Benefits?
Mindfulness can help to reduce stress and improve our mental cognition. It can also reduce stress-induced inflammation, thus benefiting individuals with any chronic inflammatory conditions, including asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, and arthritis. As we master the art of mindfulness, we can more easily make our life’s goals become a reality.
How Do I Begin?
There are many training courses in mindfulness available, however, here are several tips to becoming more mindful that we can practice on our own:
- Focus on a sensory experience, like the sound of our breathing. Slowly breathe in and out. Notice how our bodies begin to feel as we go through this exercise.
- Notice what’s around you with purpose and clarity. You can begin by focusing on an object and observe the characteristics of that object.
- As you begin to eat a meal, pay attention to the food that you eat (the color, smell, texture, etc.).
- Take the time to count the blessings in your life. Instead of focusing on the negative, which we are typically more inclined to do, focus on the positive aspects of our lives.
Mindfulness is about being engaged in all the little details and feelings of our lives. These seemingly minute details connect us to the more global picture that includes ourselves, everyone and everything. We are fully present and connected to the world around us.
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