Have you envied the wild laughter and shrill screams of a child on a swing as they climb higher and higher? Have you marveled at a dog as he focuses completely and fully on a juicy bone, chomping loudly and oblivious to the world around him? Have you enjoyed a salty breeze on your face, the warm sun on your skin and the wondrous smells of the ocean while thinking about absolutely nothing but the beauty surrounding you? If so, you have experienced the amazing wonders of mindfulness!
What is mindfulness and why should I care? According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, “Mindfulness is the awareness that arises by paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” Mindfulness seems to be all the buzz these days and here is why: We all know that chronic stress is not good for our mental, spiritual or physical selves. Did you know that chronic stress can literally shrink the prefrontal cortex area in our brains and result in a brain that is less capable of learning and memory? A brain that is more prone to anxiety and depression, according to Huffington Post Healthy Living. Do you want all the brain power you can get without feeling anxious and depressed? Research suggests that practicing mindfulness can help improve many important mental functions. Regulating emotions can improve one’s ability to sleep and generates a healthy immune system, which has greatly improved performance for those with concentration issues. Thanks to an overall better mental health, relationships benefitted greatly by bolstered empathy and insight.
If you would like to hear more from our mindfulness experts, please watch the link below and hear examples of how Wonton and ChowMein are able to use mindfulness every day to ensure they are fully present, in the moment and non-judgmental. They’re even able to use mindfulness to help them address “team” conflict, which allows them to move on peacefully after facing a major issue. Mindfulness is about increasing your enjoyment in daily life. Oh, to be as mindful as Wonton and ChowMein! That’s certainly a goal I’m working on!
How can I incorporate mindfulness into my every day hectic life? The goal of mindfulness is to quiet your analytical side down so that your intuitive side can get a chance to breathe. Literally! If you observe my dogs, they are good at it. They just breathe (or in their case, pant!). Here is something I often do before every coaching session with one of my clients:
- Just Breathe! – Sit comfortably with eyes closed and direct your attention to the physical sensations of breathing by simply noticing it, paying attention to it, and being aware of it. Take a deep breath in, inhale deeply for 6 seconds, hold the breath for 6 seconds, and then exhale deeply for 6 seconds. Do this ideally for 1 minute. It is so simple. Try it and notice how much more relaxed and focused you will feel.
Additional mindfulness actions:
- Mindful observation: Focus on a natural object. Watch for 1-2 minutes and observe your breathing as your heart rate slows down.
- Mindful awareness: Observe an everyday thing such as washing a dish, shutting a door, or eating a piece of fruit. Fully focus on the object and feel yourself relax into the moment.
- Mindful listening: Close your eyes and hear the sounds around you. It’s amazing!
- Gently bring your mind back if it wanders during this mindfulness focus. Don’t judge yourself!
- Pray and sit quietly.
- Try to practice mindfulness for 10 minutes a day.
Wonton, ChowMein and I will bring you more mindfulness tips in our next newsletter. In the meantime, enjoy each day, live in the present and let us know if we can be of further assistance to you as you slow down and relish the day with more presence and purpose!