So what's it all about?
Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing our awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting our feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, often used as a therapeutic technique to relieve symptoms stress, decrease tension and manage anxiety.
Mindfulness is not a new concept. It originated from ancient eastern and Buddhist philosophy and dates back around 2500 years. The concept of mindfulness was introduced to the western world by Jon Kabat-Zinn. The method tunes us in to our inner and outer state thereby assisting us to make better choices.
How can mindfulness help?
Most of us live out of our comfort zone on a consistent basis to keep up with the demands of life and work. The effects of accumulated stress creates imbalance within all bodily systems leading to impaired healing, hindered productivity, sub-optimal workout recovery and disrupted sleep patterns.
The good news is, through the practice of proven mindfulness techniques, we can tune in to our bodies signals, self regulate our nervous system and bounce back more quickly from anything that tips our balance scale.
Try This Mindful Awareness Tip Now
As you read this text, slow yourself down by taking take three deep slower breaths. Take a Pause. Notice your surroundings with all of your senses. Visually, what do you see? What do you hear? How do your clothes feel on your skin? Is your mind calm or agitated? Is your body relaxed or tense? Go deeper, notice the quality of your natural breath, is it shallow or deep, smooth or shaky? Are you aware of the beating of your heart? Is it fast or slow? Are you able to sense the space within and around you? Is your heart feeling light or heavy?
Through the practice of mindful awareness, we can learn to go deeper and tap into our thoughts, feelings, emotions, energy and consciousness. The autonomic nervous system sends signals throughout our body all the time yet we rarely pay attention unless we have a regular practice to calm the monkey mind.
The more we train our parasympathetic nervous system to relax and practice the art of sensory perception, the deeper the experience becomes to non-judgmentally watch and witness ourselves.
Why is it important?
We can sense more quickly when we are centered or not and discern what kind of movement, nourishment or rest is needed in the moment.
Did you know, every time we hurry, worry, or feel stressed, it triggers an inflammatory response. This inflammation becomes chronic, and can lead to conditions that cause heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.
It is empowering to have the ability to take our health and well-being into our own hands and influence others to do the same. When we feel better, we speak better and show up for others more attentively and kindly.
When to do it?
Commit to mindfulness using the Kaisen approach of 1% improvement everyday. Embarking on anything new can be daunting for most people. Behavioural change takes time. Start with mini-moments to keep the process accessible and fun.
Train your brain
Train your brain to focus better and for longer periods. Start with one minute at first by closing your eyes and sensing your breath. Do your best to stay focused without getting distracted by your thoughts or your surroundings for one full minute.
Then add another minute each session and be aware of sensations in your body. Before you know it, 10-15 minutes will be easy and the skill will transfer into other life activities like having an uninterrupted conversation or getting through a priority on your to-do list more calmly. Small successes lead to increased confidence, and an elevated enthusiasm to keep going.
The use of breath, combined sequentially with movement (asana) as taught in the traditional Hatha yoga method is used therapeutically to enhance, subdue, strengthen, relax or restore the body-mind structure based on individual needs.
For example, before teaching a class, or stepping into a one-on one wellness coaching session, I often allow myself 10-15 minutes beforehand to get into a centered and calm state. Coherence breathing or samavritti pranayama both work well to access Alpha brain waves associated with a state of relaxation and inner well-being.
However, prior to a presentation when I need to feel alert, focused, energized, and grounded, I opt for bellows breathing or Nei Gong rapid breathing combined with mindful movement to stimulate Beta brain waves which are associated with a heightened state of mental alertness and outward focused concentration.
Breath-work is a powerful method to optimize health, energy and longevity.
By exploring the many facets of mindfulness, we discover how to alter and manage our energy systems and to connect to our most vibrant Self.
The Be Well 360 Fast Fit series are an optimal way of staying at ease, alert and energized throughout the day.
You set the tone of your day
Begin each day with awareness and intention. What do I want my day to look like? To feel like? Our mindset matters. Be a “thought watcher” and an “emotion feeler” to consciously choose which thoughts and emotions you act on during the day.
Ask yourself: What is the ONE smallest thing I can do today that will make the biggest difference in my well-being? Think 1% improvement each day. Strive for improvement, not perfection.
Five ways to breathe mindfully and get the results you want
Each can be done in 1 to 10 minutes.