Written by Carolyn King from Empowered Happiness
Relaxation can be difficult when there are constant stresses bombarding us from different directions. The current climate, with COVID19 means most of us are on constant alert, listening to news reports to hear the latest figures and quarantine rules local governments have put in place.
This constant stress creeps into our lives affecting our autonomic nervous system and even when the stress is gone, our physical body can remain in that state of stress until we do something about it.
One of the more powerful ways to help our body’s autonomic system relax is the art of Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a powerful tool anyone can learn to help them fully relax they mind, body and soul. The reason we need to learn it is that most of us were never taught what mindfulness is, nor how we can implement it into our lives. The great thing is, it is never too late, and the benefits are literally life changing.
What is Mindfulness?
Simply put, the practice of Mindfulness is being aware of what is happening right now.
Mindfulness is essentially placing our awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting our feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. But most of us, in today’s world, have forgotten what it’s like to slow down and really appreciate our surroundings, without judgement.
For example, have you ever driven your car somewhere and arrived at your destination only to realise you remember nothing about your journey? Or started eating a packet of chips and then suddenly noticed all you had left in your hands was an empty packet?
These are some common examples of ‘mindlessness’ – a state we also often refer to as being on autopilot. On autopilot we tend to get lost in doing so we find ourselves constantly striving and struggling and getting stuff done instead of really living.
- Be grounded in our body and the present moment
- Having self-awareness
- Creating balance in our body and our life
- The ability to find peacefulness even amidst the chaos
- Adopting a non-judgemental of others and of self
The Benefits of Mindfulness
The benefits of Mindfulness are numerous and include:
- Helping us to nurture our inner peace.
- Reducing stress, anxiety and other destructive emotions.
- Helping to reduce depression.
- Reducing insomnia.
- Increasing energy both mentally and physically.
- Sharpening memory and increasing focus and attention.
- Improving emotional and social intelligence.
- Developing empathy and compassion.
- Improving confidence and emotional resilience.
- Reducing compulsive and addictive tendencies, including aiding in weight loss.
- Increasing our ability to think more clearly and creatively.
In other words, the more mindful we are the happier and healthier we are.
Mindfulness is learning to respond to the actual events around us and not the perceived events. Habitually we quite often respond to what we think we see as opposed to what is actually going on. Mindfulness is becoming aware of the difference.
So, while the aim of mindfulness is to train our conscious awareness to witness what is occurring in the now, the practice results in improved balance and happiness in our daily lives.
Eckhart Tolle sums it up completely, “In today’s rush, we all think too much, seek too much, want too much, and forget about the joy of just being.”
Create time every day to just enjoy being in the moment.
The ABC's of mindfulness
Appreciate each moment, whatever you are doing. Gratitude positively impacts the heart and increases awareness of the present moment. Over time we re-wire our brain so that we more easily see the world through the eyes of love and appreciation.
Remember that we are human beings, not human doings. Practice being at peace within yourself each day. By being in the moment, we eliminate stress and worry. Even a few minutes of just stopping and being still is beneficial to our health.
Remove the negative thought patterns from your mind. Start by becoming aware of how you talk to yourself and change the dialog. Also remove or minimize the time you spend with people or responsibilities that aren’t serving you. By eliminating these stresses from your life, you will find it easier to relax into life.
A Relaxing Mindful Activity
It all starts with you having YOU Time, 5 minutes every day to just stop and observe the moment.
Find a place you won’t be disturbed. Turn off your phone and the television. Sit comfortably and begin to focus on your breath. Breath deeply at a comfortable pace for you. Notice how it feels to breath in deeply. Notice how your lungs and torso expand on the in breath. And then notice how your lungs and torso contract on the out breath. Spend a few moments just noticing.
Then begin to engage your other senses.
Notice how the rest of your body feels, without judgement. Are your muscles relaxed?
Notice what you can smell in the environment around you.
Notice what you can hear in the room you are in, and outside the room. See if you can distinguish between the two.
Notice what you can see around the room you are in. Notice the colours, the shapes and the textures.
If you are eating or drinking something at this time, really notice the flavours. Notice where you can taste these flavours in your mouth.
Micro Mindful Moments
And if you struggle to physically stop, engage your senses while you are going about doing your chores, like washing the dishes, or eating lunch. I call these Micro Mindful Moments and can be included in your life at any time.
Remember, that Mindfulness is a skill we need to train our minds in because many of us were not taught how to strengthen our mind and manage our thinking during our younger years. It starts with you making a choice and taking small action every day.
And remember, HAPPINESS starts with a SMILE and EMPOWERMENT starts with the CHOICE!