The word mindfulness has been buzzing around the wellness industry quite a bit lately. And with good reason. Studies after studies are showing the amazing benefits the practice.
But what does mindfulness mean? It has just recently become more defined to a even more curious world as we as a society are reaching out to find better ways to deal with the ever increasing stresses in our lives.
Mindfulness in simple terms is the moment-by-moment process of actively and openly observing one’s physical, mental and emotional experiences. It is observation without criticism or judgement while being compassionate with yourself.
Mindfulness is a form of meditation. It is an "insight" meditation. Instead of quieting the mind and focusing on a singular item, such as the breath, a mantra such as "I love myself", or a visualization such as success, which are all "concentration" meditations, mindfulness allows us to experience all that is happening in the present moment. The thoughts, the feelings, the emotions, the sounds and smells that surface in our quiet moments. As we notice these thoughts and feelings, we become the observer of what's happening in our brains. This simple process of becoming aware takes us a step back from the emotions of the experience. We enable ourselves to not get caught up in the feelings and emotions, but simply just notice that we are having that feeling. We learn that we are not the sum of our emotions or experiences, We are beyond that. We are the same being as the day we were born, fresh and new, without the "lessons" of the world teaching us how to feel and react. As the observer, we are set above all the noise. We are able to look down upon and choose which thoughts and emotions serve us and which ones don't. Mindfulness teaches us to not judge ourselves because of a thought or emotion...the thought just is...a thought, manufactured by past experiences...we can choose what to do with it, we can act on it, we can change it, we can let it float on by.
The mind is a powerful force, and left to itself can run our lives in directions we may not like. Let us be "mindful" of what is going on in that organ between our ears, and let us, the observers choose what we listen to. Let us become proactive instead of reactive to all that goes on in our heads.
The trick is...to sit down and take the time to listen...this is the essence of mindfulness.
So yes, as my title indicates, mindfulness can make your world and the world a better place. Just think of the possibilities of a society that practices mindful meditation!
Are you trying to implement some new, healthy habit into your life? If you are like most of us, the new desired activity may last a day or two or even a week or two only to fall to the wayside and we are back into our old behavior. It is a universal, human problem! Our brains naturally want to keep doing the same thing. We have created ruts in our neural pathways, much like a dog creates a worn path around his perimeter. In order to overcome and get out of our ruts we have to be proactive. Creating small habits to reach the bigger goal, one step at a time is very effective. When we break down the "big picture" into smaller frames, we create a road to success.
Try this simple method to get you out of your rut and on to new things!
Goal Example: Healthy Lifestyle (big and undefined goal) Break it down one small habit at a time.
A new small habit to help get me to the bigger goal:
Drink more water
So now that we have a smaller more manageable goal (tiny habit) we need to tie it to a trigger, something that you do everyday. And then after you accomplish the new habit, celebrate with saying out loud "Great Job!" or "I'm Awesome" (I know it's corny but it works!)
Use this simple format: You can fill in the blanks with whatever habit you want to create (as long it is small)! Remember we are breaking down big goals into small, doable steps!
After I : walk downstairs in the morning
I will: fill my water bottle
Then I celebrate with: I am awesome!
You will find that because of the very fact that you tied the desired action to something you do everyday, it becomes easy to stay with it. Celebrating afterwards reinforces our brains to continue the activity! Super simple!
If you try this method, I would love to hear how it went. Just comment in the space below!