23 Jun Mindfulness for Life-fulness
Mindfulness is the ability to know what is happening in your head at any given moment without getting carried away by it. Rooted in Buddhism, mindfulness is a form of meditation that helps you recognize and cope with your emotions and physical sensations; suitable to treat many conditions including depression, anxiety or eating disorders. A systematic form of mental training including meditation can potentially transform your health and habits in a positive way.
Mindful awareness can be simply thought of as an approach to continually paying attention in a watchful way for all the happenings going on in our internal and external world. It is important to differentiate between mindfulness and meditation. While meditating we are usually lying down and our purpose is to be completely relaxed and we imagine ourselves somewhere else, for instance at a peaceful meadow or somewhere high up in the sky floating in the universe; namely we take ourselves away from everyday life and activities. In this relaxed state of mind it is possible to achieve many purposes.
Mindfulness is different from meditation in so many ways. First of all it is regularly performed in a sitting position and starting with the eyes open. The main purpose is to sit and just let your body and mind to unwind.
To perform a mindfulness meditation just make sure you are comfortable and begin with nice soft focus with your eyes open. Start with a few nice big breaths, in thourgh the nose and out through the mouth. Then close eyes just notice the sensations you feel with your body from the top of your head to the soles of the feet, bringing the mind in the body, being more aware of the physical senses. As we are usually so busy with all the things, we do not really pay attention to our body and how it feels.
A gentle scanning will help you notice any areas of tension and also at ease. Meanwhile building up a picture of how the body feels, the mind may be wandering but you only need to gently bring the attention back to the body. After the scanning you bring the attention to breathing itself. Counting breaths to ten a few times and focusing on breathing will help you become more aware, while enjoying doing nothing. You do not need to imagine anything, you just simply focus on you.
It is easiest to visualize the process like this: you are sitting by a busy road loaded with traffic, where the vehicles are representing your thoughts and feelings. All you do in mindfulness is just sitting there and watching the cars. The constant motion of cars ( thoughts, emotions) may make you unsettled and you may jump in the middle of traffic or start chasing a car, leaving you with a restless mind. You may notice something that made you angry, by reflecting on the sensations. Acknowledging you got angry but not acting upon the feeling will help you react wisely instead of blindly. So the main point is to change the attitude towards the traffic of your wandering thoughts and feelings by learning how to view them from different perspectives without trying to modify them in any way. This will lead you to a meditative state of mind, feeling perfectly calm.
The mindful awareness approach can be applied to all fields of life not only as a meditation. For instance you may want to try mindful eating, a technique that helps with gaining control over eating habits. Eat slowly, without distraction, engaging all senses by paying attention to colours, smells, textures and flavours of the food and appreciate it to make eating intentional in the abundance of food these days. Mindful eating can successfuly help controlling eating disorders, such as binge eating and also promotes weight loss simply by changing eating behaviours and reducing stress related to food and eating. If you feel like trying mindful eating, just pay attention to noticing physical hunger, chewing slowly and thoroughly and paying attention to all sensations induced by the food and eating. Make sure you avoid all distractions and stop eating when you are full.
Mindful walking or running
Being aware of all the surrounding environment and the physical sensations experienced, so to say being present during walking or running will shift the act to another level. The purpose is to stay mentally connected within the movement and not being distracted. First of all paying attention to the breath during running will help you notice how exactly you are feeling. Perhaps while scanning the body, some former injuries or experience appears, this will help having a conversation with yourself about yourself. Even if you take 5-10 minutes of the walk or run in the state of mindful awareness, you will get closer to visualizing the actual situation. The more aware you are, the more you can run and the easier you may get „in the zone”. By answering these questions: „How am I breathing?” and „Where am I looking?” you can easily determine the current state you are in.
The main point of mindfulness is being aware and present in the moment. If you practice daily you will get better and more comfortable in your mind, easily accessible anytime, anywhere, without external help.
Enjoy the opportunity to sit back relax and be present in the world.