Gift Yourself the Gift Of Mindfulness

“Breathe deeply and appreciate the moment.

Living in the moment could be the meaning of life.”

Think the above quote is a bunch of “lululemon fluff”? Think again. Believe it or not, the simple act of being “in the moment” can take your health to the next level. Learning to practice mindfulness will not only improve your wellness, it will allow you to take JOY in your life. Want to savor the journey not just the destination? Read on and learn how to cultivate mindfulness in your daily actions.

Mindfulness is the non-judgmental awareness of what is happening in the present moment. The topic of mindfulness, now supported by a large body of knowledge and practice, can help you accomplish all of your goals and lead the fulfilling life of your dreams.
More often than not, we are not fully aware of and awake to where we are and what we are doing. We walk around on automatic pilot. Eating while reading, working, or worrying about past or future events, instead of tasting each bite of food. When we workout our minds are busy working out thinking about our to-do list, instead of being in tune with our body and it’s movement.
Mindfulness is a way to break free from autopilot and to enjoy the rich life you want. By simply paying attention to our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, relationships, and environments, without judgment or condemnation, we wake up to the experience of what’s going on around us and within us while it’s actually happening. This frees us to experience our lives and make informed decisions about new directions, dreams, and goals.

Everyone has the ability to be fully present and practice mindfulness in their daily lives. For example, eating can provide a wonderful opportunity to become mindful. Instead of rushing through meals or snacks, doing two things at once, with hardly a thought as to what we are eating, where the food comes from, or how it will impact our bodies, minds, and spirits, we can slow down and pay attention in ways that increase enjoyment, change our relationship to food, and become more conscious to our consumption. Such mindfulness can lead not only to improved eating habits but also to fuller experiences in other areas of life. Increased mindfulness in one area leads to increased mindfulness in all areas.

One of the most popular mind-training techniques in sports now is the practice of mindfulness. Part of the attraction is its simplicity – although, admittedly, the technique can take practice. Essentially, mindfulness is the ability to rest the mind in the moment, focused on a specific object or task, and to create a relaxed but alert state of mind. From a workout point of view, this means putting the mind into the muscle, bringing a greater awareness to the physical body and the sensations within it. The theory of this technique is that in being able to step back from the inner dialogue and witness ourselves from a place of awareness, it can give us a greater perspective on our thoughts, emotions and physical sensations. And in being less distracted by those things, we are able to “think less” and “do more”. We are able to get out of our minds and into our muscles in sports.

As we practice being fully present in our lives, we learn to increase mindfulness in  all of our daily experiences. We grow to pay more attention to the many dynamics of health, wellness, and life. Jon Kabat-Zinn writes:

“When, through the practice of mindfulness, we learn to listen to the body through all its sense doors, as well as to attend to the flow of our thoughts and feelings, we are beginning the process of reestablishing and strengthening connectedness within our own inner landscape. That attention nurtures a familiarity and an intimacy with our lives unfolding at the level of what we call body and what we call mind that depends and strengthens well-being and a sense of ease in our relationship to whatever is unfolding in our lives from moment to moment. We thus move from dis-ease, including outright disease, to greater ease and harmony and, as we shall see, greater health” (2005, p. 123).

Motivated to be mindful? Here are simple ways you can practice mindfulness in the daily moments of your life:

      • Take the time to prepare a delicious meal. Buy the ingredients. Focus on cooking every step the recipe. Present the finished product on your favorite dishware and host a gourmet meal solo.
      • Turn off the t.v., phone, computer and savor a meal slowly. Are you hungry? What does the food look like, smell like, taste like? How can you enhance the experience of eating?
      • Go for a walk, hike, bike ride, run outside. Where are you? What is going on around you? How does the air smell? Observe all of the interesting and beautiful things in the world around you.
      • Enjoy your favorite workout solo. Notice every movement, every drop of sweat. Imagine you are moving in slow motion, noticing every body position. When the workout becomes challenging, what do you feel happening? How is your heart rate? What does it feel like to move your muscles? Pay attention to how you feel before, during, and after.
      • Put your favorite song on your itunes. Press play. Sit and just listen. What is it about? Does it bring out any emotions? Does it make you smile or sing along?
      • Focus on your breath. Your breath is a powerful and simple way to anchor yourself in the present moment. Whenever you are having a hard time staying in the now, take deep breaths, and focus on your breathing. Try something like counting to four on the inhale and four on the exhale. It allows the logical part of the brain to focus on counting. After a while you’ll find yourself centered and can just be with your breath.

I could go on, but I think you understand… there is NO end to the opportunities for mindful living! Becoming more mindful is done step-by-step. You do not have to go all-in. Simply work towards increasing the amount of time you spend in the present moment each and every day.  It just takes practice and a positive attitude to grow into a mindfulness master.

Through living with a practice of mindfulness, we are able to truly understand and appreciate its powerful effect on health, fitness, and wellness. Being present allows us to SHOW UP and LIVE our  lives. It enables us to learn, grow, and develop beyond what we might otherwise have thought possible. This week how will YOU be mindful?

Give yourself a gift and be present this week. Your heart will thank you for it 🙂

Hope to see you soon and share a mindful moment with you. Have a GREAT week, breathe deep, and celebrate every second!

Caroline

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