Are you feeling overwhelmed with life, school, finding balance, and money or relationship issues? Do you ever experience sleep issues, headaches, stomachaches, muscle tension, anxiety or have high blood pressure? Chances are you are one of the approximate 70% of people who would have answered yes to at least one of those symptoms. According to Statistic Brain, 77% of people report experiencing physical symptoms caused by stress, while 73% of people report regularly experiencing psychological symptoms caused by stress. If you are in fact experiencing stress in your life, clearly you’re in good company…but how would you like to get rid of it?
The good news is that I have tools that can help. As you are reading this, I’d like you to stop for minute, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Do this 3 more times. Now notice how your body feels when slowing down for just a moment and breathing. Be aware of what thoughts are popping into your head and what emotions or bodily sensations are arising. No need to let whatever is arising to take over – just give it space to exist without judgment or attachment, and then let it go.
This simple act of intentionally breathing and paying to your present moment experience is the foundation of a mindfulness practice. Mindfulness is learning to live your life with greater awareness, attention and intention and utilizes your breath as the anchor to keep drawing you back into the present moment. There is no magic in mindfulness – the power comes in the paying attention and letting go. So often, we hold on to our stories, get stuck in the past, fear the future, get anxious about the unknown, ruminate on previous conversations or interactions…all of makes us feel stuck and gives us anxiety. The only thing we have actually have control over is the here and now, and learning how to live in the present allows us the freedom to let go of what we can’t change or control. Mindfulness does not get rid of life’s problems, but it does give us the ability to respond, rather than react, to whatever is arising in the moment with skill and intention. It is about getting out of the cycle of negative reactive loops in our thinking or actions and gaining greater awareness of our thoughts and emotions without letting them take over.
Cultivating a mindfulness practice has been scientifically proven to decrease physical symptoms such as blood pressure and chronic pain as well as mental health benefits such as reduction in depression, sleep issues and anxiety. Mindfulness is not hard to do – it is just hard to remember to do. You are already breathing and will breathe until the moment you die. So why not learn the tools to use your breath to your physical and mental benefit? Follow these simple steps:
~ take a minute and just breathe
~ notice thoughts, emotions or sensations that are arising – give them space to exist without
judgment or attachment
~ acknowledge when you are getting caught in a cycle of reactive, habitual or unskillful patterns
and remember that you have a choice in how to proceed
For more information of cultivating a mindfulness practice, check out The foundation of a mindfulness practice