Mind, Body & Life: Mindfulness for healthier minds and healthier bodies
Have you been moving from task to task without even thinking about it? Feeling fatigued from the daily hustle at work or going through your chores? Then you may have been on an “auto-pilot” mode for a while.
In this week’s segment on Mind, Body & Life, we will introduce some of the basics needed to stop us from acting automatically, from going through the motions without thought. One of such aspects is Mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the concept of learning to be present and fully engaged in the activity that you are doing and being aware of your thoughts, free from distraction.
Unlike Meditation (temporary state), the aim of Mindfulness is to create a sustained way of thinking, awareness, and living, so that we can learn to better deal with situations.
How can Mindfulness help?
Mindfulness can help as we become more aware of our surroundings, ourselves, our thoughts, and emotions, especially in difficult situations. When we are challenged, we may resort to action overreaction, rather than the thought process that will enable us to make better decisions and act appropriately.
Being mindful may help you:
– Be more aware of the situation; conscious of what is happening, how people around you react
– Stay calm; through mindfulness, stress can be alleviated by inducing a state of relaxation
– Stay clear and focused; on what your thoughts and feelings are about the situation
– Make better decisions; through the thought process
This, in turn, enables you to channel your energy into thinking of innovative ways to act and you may be thus able to be more productive and maintain more harmonious relationships.
What can I do to be more Mindful?
- Focused Attention: Focus your attention on the breath — specifically the rise and fall of the chest — and return to the breath whenever you get distracted or when your mind starts to wander.
- Body Scan: Be aware of any discomfort, sensations, or aches that exist in your body.
- Noting: Take “note” of a particular thought or feeling when you become distracted when doing a task. The practice of noting helps to create space and learn more about your habits, tendencies, and conditioning.
- Visualization: Focus on your vision of a person or something more abstract, to hold attention. The familiar image will help create and maintain a relaxed focus.
- Resting Awareness: Rather than focusing on the breath or visualization, this technique involves letting the mind rest; thoughts may enter, but instead of distracting you and pulling you away from the present moment, they simply leave.
- Reflect: Ask yourself a question; “What are you most grateful for?” (Note that asking yourself a question using the second person — you — will discourage the intellectual mind from trying to answer it rationally.) Be aware of the feelings, not the thoughts, that arise when you focus on the question.
So how can being Mindful help my body?
Practicing Mindfulness can impact your health by enhancing healthy behaviors; attending regular health check-ups, being physically active, using seat belts, making healthier diet choices, and even avoiding nicotine and alcohol. This may in turn decrease stress, anxiety, depression, and improve your general health. (https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-mindfulness/)
By being mindful, you can potentially help to minimize the negativity attached to a particular situation/event that you are in and still achieve your goal.
For example, you are starting to gain weight and feel that you may need to start exercising. You are reserved about exercising as you are afraid of provoking your previous knee injury. Here is how you may react to this situation:
– Reactive; you put off the idea of exercising, you procrastinate and eventually you do not exercise.
– Mindful: you“Note” and acknowledge that you have a previous knee injury, with the “Visualization” and goal of weight loss in mind, exercise is essential. Your search for alternative exercise that does not provoke knee pain. If you still feel the pain, you continue to pay “Focused Attention” to your goal of weight loss, and you start looking to seek help to rectify your previous injury and improve your performance to enable you to return to exercise without pain.
Given the benefits of Mindfulness, it is important that we start the practice and inculcate it in our daily living. With a set goal in mind, anything is achievable even in the most stringent conditions.