Mindfulness is an area that is creating an extraordinary amount of attention these days. From the impact of mindfulness on the Seattle Seahawks, to boosting test scores, and improving cardiovascular health, we are made aware of the vast array of benefits from almost every corner of society. The Mayo Clinic is even on board, listing the benefits of a mindfulness practice as reduced stress, anxiety and depression, less rumination, and improved mood and focus. When you put it this way, my question becomes: In what area of society would mindfulness not be of benefit?
Educators, athletes, corporate executives, individuals serving jail time, people with a history of abuse in their lives, and even your traditional soccer mom all experience periods of stress, frustration, anxiety, anger, and worry. And for all of these people, a consistent mindfulness practice would be beneficial.
Getting started and making the time for mindfulness on a daily basis is the only difficult part of the experience, not because practicing mindfulness is actually hard to do, but because it seems so simple. It's easy for us to think that something so simple couldn't possibly result in such benefits. Well, it is simple, but that is not the same thing as being easy. After all, how often do you allow yourself time away from all technology? How often do you decide to put yourself first, rather than thinking about work, the kids, your responsibilities, your friends, or your extracurriculars?
Allowing time for you just may be the nicest gift you ever give yourself, and this selfless act can result in a positive impact on not just you, but also on those with whom you interact. Give yourself 10 minutes every day. Just 10 minutes every day for one month. If you can commit to that and follow through, you will change your life and never look back.
- Practice mindfulness of sound or breathing, and notice your heart calming and stress diminishing in a way you never thought possible.
- Try a body scan and become reacquainted with your body, realizing where you hold your stress and where you feel your joy.
- Focus on a sight you often pass, and, this time, really look at what is there. How does the light reflect off the surface? Is it hard or soft, hot or cold, rough or smooth? See if you can name 10 characteristics of this one thing you've always just taken for granted and never truly noticed before.
- Practice mindful eating. Slow down before taking that first bite to really examine the food, noticing what happens in your mouth and your stomach before diving in. And when you do begin to chew, notice what happens with each bite in your mouth, and again when you're ready to swallow. Can you feel it as it slides down your throat? And does paying such close attention to your food, and how it feels when you eat, impact the amount you consume?
Mindfulness is not magic. It is simply a tool. And for any tool to be effective, you have to use it properly and whenever necessary. Mindfulness is a practice that can be done in multiple ways throughout all of your days. And it will change your world for the better.
You're worth it; give yourself this gift. It's a present from me to you.
Give it a try, and let me know what you think.
Dr Susie Wolbe can be reached through her website at www.drsusiewolbe.com.