Cultivate A Mindfulness Practice!
Our lives are so busy and we attempt to do it all! We are constantly in a juggling act between school, homework, jobs, family, friends, relationships, exercise and personal time. Often we are successful in getting through many items on our to-do list, however, merely crossing off an item doesn’t mean you were actually paying attention or engaged with it!
Chances are, due to limited hours in the day and feeling overwhelmed with responsibility, you have fallen into a pattern of multitasking. At first, there doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with multitasking – why only get one thing done at a time, when you can get two or three? It seems like an efficient way of being. The problem is that when you’re simply going through the motions, you aren’t fully engaging in your life. Our brains aren’t actually designed to give quality attention to too many tasks at once. In fact, studies show that multitasking can actually compromise your brain’s ability to function at optimal levels, while at the same time triggering stress hormones that may lead to health issues.
(This article was published on Student Health 101 --- read it there)
But our mind never stops – it is constantly full with overwhelming, persistent and exhausting internal chatter, coupled with all our things to do. It’s no wonder we’re stressed and tired from all that juggling. Luckily, there are proven ways to help!
Mindfulness is an ancient wisdom practice that has found its way into modern secular society and is the practice of living your life with awareness, attention and intention. It is rooted in developing a deep connection with your breath, which is naturally healing and calming, bridges your mind with your body, and also continually draws you back into the present moment. Rather than ruminating over the past or fearing the future, mindfulness is about being in the here and now, because it is the only moment we have control over. Cultivating this practice has been scientifically proven not only to reduce stress and anxiety, but also improves the quality of our attention and focus, as well as strengthening the mind/body connection. Mindfulness provides tools to increase your efficiency because when you are in the moment, you are fully bringing yourself to the task at hand, and learning to not engage in distractions around you. Becoming an awake and active participant in your own life allows you to develop a calm and peaceful center so you can actually find the joy amidst the chaos. Additionally, strengthening your awareness gives space for whatever is arising in the moment without attaching judgment or expectation for a particular outcome. Overall, mindfulness helps you enhances your quality of presence and experiences; it is not something to add to your to-do list, but rather it’s a way of being in the world.
So, how do you practice mindfulness? Follow these easy steps… It’s not hard to do, it’s just hard to remember to do.
- slow down; take a minute and just breathe
- notice what is arising around and within you without giving in to the urge to do anything about it – simply notice
- pay attention to your present moment emotions and thoughts; give space for them to exist – no need to judge or change them
- be aware of your body sensations and breathe into any pain or tension you may be experiencing
- practice self-compassion
- keep breathing – as long as you are breathing there is more right with you than wrong with you