Life is much different today then it was even a generation ago. We are being constantly advertised and marketed to, there is always something else we should be doing, whether it is for our health, a tv series, (when does the final season of Game of Thrones start?) or someone else is needing something. In other words there is a lot of noise, especially if you live in the city, and if we are not careful that noise can be overwhelming. The good news is that there are things we can do to quiet the noise, and no we do not have to go postal to do so.
Mindfulness based stress reduction is a simple practice that can help you turn the volume down. The practice of mindfulness is used to create a non judgmental state of open awareness to the present. Simple but not always easy, especially the non judgement aspect. This practice especially when combined with deep breathing exercises can help you not only reduce the noise, but help you calm your own nervous system and can become a tool that you can use when the seas become troubled.
To begin a mindfulness practice I recommend to do the following:
Find a quiet area where you can go and not be disturbed for at least 5 mins. Over time this should be about 20 mins. to be the most effective long term.
Sit comfortably with your fingers interlaced and resting in your lap and close down your eyes.
Start by focusing on your breath. Notice the way you are breathing, is it shallow, deep, fast or slow, ect.
Allow thoughts to come and go, and if you get distracted by losing focus on your breath it is ok, when you become aware just shift your focus back to your breath.
KEY POINT: no judgement. You will lose focus, it is OK
If you begin with those 5 steps above you are on your way to developing a tool that can help you in many different areas of life. If you can’t find 5 mins, start with one breath. We can all do one breath, and once you have done one, you can do two then before you know it 20 mins feels like a cake walk.
This month we will be exploring the ways mindfulness can affect your brain, your health, and your overall quality of life, so be on the lookout for more each week. I can speak from not only the testimonial of others, but from my own practice that mindfulness is a worthwhile pursuit that will pay off in many unexpected ways.