Mindfulness has become the new “it” word in the psychology world but what warrants all the hype? Mindfulness means becoming very connected and extremely aware of the concrete here and now. In this technological world, we have retreated too much into our heads and machines. People have become detached from the real, physical world. Mindfulness is the practice of becoming refocused on our natural, tangible world.
Let me give you an example of Mindfulness. If you choose to eat some raspberries….becoming mindful would mean that you paid attention to the details of the experience. First, you would notice the bright red color and the interesting shape of the raspberry. As you brought the fruit up to your mouth, you would inhale the aroma of the berry. So in the future, you could distinctly pick out the smell of this type of produce. Then, you would savor the taste of the raspberry…memorizing the fruit’s unique blending of tartness versus sweet. You would be mindful of the big difference between a raspberry and a strawberry. In your thoughts, you would commit to memory all the aspects of this fruit. Therefore, if you never could eat a raspberry again, you would be able to pull up the experience in your memory.
Mindfulness means you would make a point every day to switch off of auto-piolet and enjoy all 5 senses interacting with the physical world. What does fresh air smell like? How is it different after a rain? Notice how the breeze gently strokes your face. Listen to the sound of a child’s laugh. Pay attention to the sense of gravity as you walk and how your foot feels on the pavement. In fact, take time to take off your shoes and walk in the grass for a few moments. Detect how the soft blades tickle the bottoms of your feet. A mindful person would lay down on the ground and study the clouds or the stars. Becoming in tune with nature, you would pay attention to the sounds of the chirping birds, the singing of the grasshopper, the bellows of the frogs, the swaying of the trees, the breeze on your face and the smell of the air. You are becoming intune and intouch.
There is also mindful meditation which focuses on something very specific like breathing. Take 2 minutes twice a day to just breathe. Breathe from your belly and take a deep breath, hold it and exhale very slowly. Concentrate only on your breathing technique for those several minutes. Try it again only puffing out your breath. This exercise will release tension, calm your nerves and reduce your heart rate.
Now you may be asking yourself…why is this important? What is the big deal? The answer is … whatever we practice – we become. So getting back to nature, taking the time to smell the roses, getting out of our mind and into our bodies has 7 proven key benefits:
#1) Mindfulness strengthens the body’s immune system.
#2) Social relationships improve.
#3) Mindful practice reduces depression, stress, and anxiety.
#4) People report feeling more happiness and increased well-being.
#5) Individuals become more open to the experience of living.
#6) Mindfulness leads to becoming more conscious and aware of all the choices we make throughout our day. Example: Do we check Facebook or our I phones many times a day or do we take the time to run barefoot in the grass.
#7) Becoming mindful, opens new pathways in the brain, so we are more flexible, adaptive and make healthy and positive choices.
Therefore, I encourage you to add these very simple practices into your life. It is an easy change to increase your pleasure in living.
To read more from this author, go to www.supportivetalk.com. Otherwise, check out Amazon for “Mindfulness,” by Mark Williams and Danny Penman; “Search Inside Yourself” by Chade-Meng Tan or “The Mindful Way Workbook” by John D. Teasdale, Ph.D.