So, what’s this magic trick to succeed in this roller coaster called life?
They say life is not about avoiding the highs and lows, but learning how you ride the waves. We know, easier said than done! Sometimes it can feel like you’re caught in an undertow: between the day to day logistics, anxiety, pressure and stress it can feel like you’re barely able to keep your head above water!
So, what’s this magic trick to succeed in this rollercoaster called life? Mindfulness.
Mindfulness is essentially learning to be in the present moment, no matter how trying that moment may be. And here’s why and how to channel this valuable life tool.
In this brief overview by Greg Flaxman and Lisa Flook, Ph.D, they lay out the benefits of practicing mindfulness and how it promotes both mental and physical health. Some of the benefits include stress reduction, increased joyfulness, and improve your overall quality of life. It’s also been thought to help improve heart disease and high blood pressure, reduce feelings of depression, alleviate anxiety and associated disorders such as OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) as well as promote healthy sleep patterns.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Here are some techniques that you can try to learn the art of being present.
First, know that like building any other muscle in your body, regular exercise is key to achieving your goal, the goal here is to create a state of being in the present by observing sights, sounds and sensations without judgement.
Start with something that doesn’t usually stress you out. It can be something relaxing like going for a nice walk to a mundane daily activity like washing dishes. Here’s what you should do along with your chosen task/activity:
Bring your attention to the sensations in your body
Inhale…allowing the air to fill your abdomen fully
Focus your attention on each inhalation and exhalation
Go ahead with your daily task slowly, with your senses fully engaged in the sensations, sights and sounds.
If you notice your mind wandering, gently bring your attention back to the present moment.
And remember, like any exercise, the more you do it the more you will strengthen your “mindful muscles”. Once you find that you are able to focus on these more mundane tasks you can try to build your “muscle” by practicing on something that you find slightly more stressful, like grocery shopping or balancing your checkbook (OK, that one might be a little much for beginners) but you will get there! The more you do it, the more positive an effect you can reap from it. So try it today!