“Wherever you are, be there totally” ~Eckhart Tolle
Have you ever found yourself standing in a lineup at the grocery store listening to a podcast, checking your email, and making a to-do list all at the same time? If you are like me, you pride yourself on how well you can multitask, but studies show that every time you switch your focus from one thing to another, it can take your brain up to 25 minutes to get back to where it was before you were distracted. This might be fine if you are doing dishes and you hear an alert on your phone, but you are not able to think deeply when you are distracted every few minutes, says Earl Miller, a Professor of Neuroscience from MIT. If this is you, then mindfulness may be an answer to your hectic life. It was for me.
It’s not our fault. Our brains are hardwired to respond to sights and sounds, and with the constant presence of social media, countless texts and an endless inbox of emails; we are stressed, overworked and over stimulated. Even the mild pressure of planning a Thanksgiving dinner, can be perceived by the body as negative stress. This constant feeling of attack creates a build-up of the stress hormone cortisol that can eventually lead to mental and physical diseases such as anxiety, depression, immune deficiencies, diabetes, obesity, and cancer.
Enter Mindfulness. To put it simply, mindfulness is about living in the moment and purposefully paying attention. Although this term has been gaining more popularity in the West, mindfulness and meditation have been practiced by Buddhist and Hindu religions for thousands of years. Being mindful is not just about the Om in yoga class, it’s a refreshing way to look at our experiences and enjoy the present, and it can be done anytime, anywhere.
Meditation and yoga are popular and effective ways to calm the mind, but when you find yourself with only ten minutes to spare, it becomes about finding ways to be in the present moment, and giving yourself permission to acknowledge the emotions you are experiencing. Sit by the fire with a coffee and watch the snowfall, or enjoy your lunch without checking your email. How about pausing to take in the sunrise or feeling thankful for your vehicle because it gets you around.
Mindfulness is not a quick fix for a busy life. It’s a lifelong work in progress, but the benefits are well worth the effort. Take the time out of your busy day and enjoy life, you may just be happier and healthier because of it.
Five Ways to be Mindful Wherever You Are
1) Keep your phone off the dinner table to strengthen interactions with family and friends.
2) Wake up ten minutes early. Breathe, journal, or sip your morning tea in stillness and quiet.
3) Take time to name three things you are grateful for each day to feel happier, healthier, and have more energy.
4) Set an intention or repeat a mantra to give meaning to your day.
5) Give yourself permission to unplug and spend time doing something you love.
By Michelle Stone, RHN. Body Design offers Personal Training, Nutrition and Yoga classes to assist individuals achieve their health and weight loss goals. You can reach Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact www.BodyDesign.ca