Mindfulness: What is it? And why we shouldn't be weary to use it to our advantage.

Thousands and thousands of years and humans continue to practice well developed discipline. They want to cultivate mindfulness to become as much a part of their life as breathing is. You may ask why?

Well first let me breakdown what mindfulness means in more western terms. Eastern terms mean something different and could shroud the concept. We have probably asked ourselves, "Why mindfulness? Why meditation? What's the point?" Well I am here to make it a little easier to see that for a little effort and discipline, your quality of life and state of well being will increase.

Computers are designed to be much like human minds. It makes perfect sense, considering the amazing ability we have to process our surroundings. Every touch, every smell, every taste, every sound and every sight; all these experiences get absorbed and processed by our minds. So techs realize human minds are the fastest computers, and try to copy. Mindfulness is the practice of making ourselves aware of what we are "processing." The question I now pose to you is how well do you notice what you touch, what you smell, what you taste, what you hear and what you see? There's the rub.

This is the key question that allowed the word mindfulness to take meaning. Being mindful is not being in a constant state of deep meditation that you learned in a cave in the Himalayas. Being mindful is being aware of what you sensing.

Take out the stress

Mindfulness reduces stress levels, measured by heart rate, breaths per minute, and blood pressure.  Other factors depending upon the study are also considered. Various universities have published papers about the benefits of taking time to slow down and the benefits to mindfulness. But in the Western world is slowing down relevant? Can you slow down and be successful?

This may be one reason, why this ancient and widely held practice has taken so long to gain popularity in the west. Another reason may be that the positive changes and the discipline required to see lasting effects of mindfulness on your life take time. In a culture of instant gratification, people can't slow down to enjoy life. Gradual, lasting change can take time, but is it not worth it?

The affects of Mindfulness immediately become clear if done right. Simply taking 5 minutes to observe and notice your breath will lower you heart rate and blood pressure. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the mode our body is in when it feels safe and secure.

Mindfulness Exercise

Here is a simple exercise designed to illustrate what a sense of mindfulness may look like! (Remember to keep mindfulness interesting! Explore your senses yourself and develop your own "feeling" exercises.)

  • Step 1: Practice where you are, if you want you can sit down, or lay down
  • Step 2: First tighten your grip, tense your muscles and release and repeat! (What do you notice? Did you watch the gradual relaxation of your body?)
  • Step 3: After tightening and relaxing your body a few times, we will transition to the breathe. Continue with what you are doing but observe the inhale through your nose, and exhale through your mouth. (What did you notice? Did you experience the sharpness/coolness of the inhale and a warmth/dampness of the exhale)
  • Step 4: Continue breathing and noticing what your body(computer) is processing. Note whether it's with your eyes open or closed!

I challenge you to practice this for just 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the evening. Ask yourself some questions like, "How was I feeling before and how am I feeling now." Make up your own questions, self exploration is the key to transcending your personal barriers and a key helper when working with life's daily serving of BS.

 

~Rand Jordan

 

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