It seems that there are so many things to do, yet so little time. Finding time to cope with our busy lifestyles can seem like just one more thing to do. About fifteen years ago, a wise professor once told me, “The key to managing our mental state is with mindfulness.”
Mindfulness is a mind-body practice.
Mindfulness can be defined by a mind-body practice, which helps people manage their emotions and thoughts by focusing on the present. The instant I heard this truth spoken to me, I knew there was going to be some miraculous growth inside of me. Although, at the time, mindfulness seemed so boring to me. “I don’t have time to be mindful,” I thought to myself. In my mind, I envisioned a picture of myself sitting cross legged, silently and joyfully observing reality. “This is not going to happen for me,” I told myself.
I could just feel how unlikely it was that I could BE that person. As I continued my training I wondered: how will I be able to help others practice mindfulness when that isn’t something I am good at? Fast forward 13 years later and it is actually ME, sitting cross legged, silently observing the present moment. How did I get there you ask? Well… it has and will continue to be a journey, but I can promise you that your own personal practice of mindfulness can be achieved and the benefits are plentiful.
Mindfulness affords us to pay attention to the present moment.
Mindfulness exercises are ways to pay attention to the present moment. This could happen through breathing exercises, prayer, mediation, visualization, stretching, yoga, journaling, relaxation music or using your senses to focus on what is happening in a specific moment. It sounds simple, but with life’s stressors it can seem difficult to be present.
Mindfulness can help people at any age, whether you have a spiritual belief or you do not. Mindfulness can impact how your brain works, and perhaps, even the structure of the brain. Studies demonstrate that mindfulness can help us self-regulate, sleep, concentrate, be healthier and even retain information better.
Mindfulness allows us to manage life’s problems better.
We strive and desire to be the best version of ourselves. However, we can’t escape stress or the complexities of life’s problems. What we can control is our ability to respond to all that life throws at us. Each of us has a personal responsibility to ourselves to honor and utilize care giving practices. I believe mindfulness is one of the best gifts we can offer to ourselves.
On stressful days, I personally find exponential value in spending 5 minutes doing a guided meditation. If you struggle with seeing yourself integrating mindfulness practices into your daily routine, I would guess you are not alone in feeling that way. Just don’t give up! Practice envisioning YOU as the person sitting cross legged enjoying a moment taking one day at a time.