Mindfulness, Let’s Count the Ways

By Cynthia Suarez

Being mindful is not the easy task people may make it out to be. However, it is the gateway to a more fulfilling life and worth every bit of effort. Practicing mindfulness encourages an improved outlook on life, because it stimulates parts of the brain that are responsible for self-regulation, emotional regulation, memory and learning, and more. Mindful individuals are conscious of their thoughts, feelings, and physical behaviors; they are aware that what they say or do can lead to either a better or worse outcome. Therefore, they are careful not to allow negativity to further transpire.

They know that troubles occur outside of their control but they do not allow themselves to be ruined by the fact. Instead, many incorporate positive thinking into their lives deliberately. They focus on the complication at hand and find the best solution for it. It’s easy to be negative. Naturally, the mind stores your insecurities, fears, and doubts and tries to use them against you. However, those who are awake and conscious of this cannot be fooled.

By using therapeutic techniques, you can generate positive energy and overcome intense, stressful, or overwhelming scenarios. The following are easy and effective ways to be mindful on a daily basis:

know-yourself
Credit: Thoughtleadershiplab.com

1. Know Yourself

What makes you tick? What makes you talk with all the fervor known to man? What leaves you in utter suspense? What are your motives in life? What are your dreams?

The more you know about yourself, the more control you can have over your mental, emotional, and physical state. For instance, say you feel so emotional that you want to cry but you do not know why. You will not come to the origin of such emotions until you stop and ask, “What is causing me to feel what I am feeling?” Once you know the source, it will be easier to find a positive solution. Only you can feel what you are experiencing and only you can choose to persevere it. This may seem like a redundant thing, but people often times forget that their well-being matters. It matters when you cry just as much as it matters when you see people you love cry. You must know and love yourself first.

 

mindful eating
Credit: Foodheavenmadeeasy.com

2. Eat Mindfully

What you choose to feed your mind affects your lifestyle, what you ingest does too. Eating mindfully means to indulge in a healthy meal without distractions.  It starts with being conscious of what and why you are eating. Be kind to your body and feed it nutritionally healthy foods. Stay clear of junk your body will reject or regret afterwards.  It’s important to listen to your body’s signals, especially the one which prevents you from stuffing yourself. Moreover, be careful not to grub simply because you are bored or tired. Your body will not be pleased.

Do not make a race out of eating. Scarfing down your meal for show will only leave your body feeling uneasy or pained. Let your food have its own moment by admiring its presentation. Appreciating your meals will bring you joy with every bite. Also, eat slower to notice the texture, ingredients, and savor all the flavors in your food.   When you are ready to scale to the next level, close your eyes while you chew your food. Trivial as it may seem, eating with your eyes closed will take your taste buds on a journey of their own. Let them wallow as well.

Have fun with eating! Eating can get old and uneventful only if you allow it. So, make it a pleasurable priority because it should be. Attempt to eat in ways you never did before. For instance, if you eat with your dominant hand then eat using the other only. Let’s say you’re ambidextrous. Kick it into overdrive by trying different eating utensils such as chopsticks or tongs.

Eating alone can become a bit of a downer. However, eating with others regularly is far more exciting. Make it a date kind of deal with people you enjoy being around such as friends and family. The company of loved ones paired with delicious fare will definitely make you appreciate this munch time.

 

Be-Present
Credit: Tinybuddha.com

3. Be Present

Being present means to bask in the present moment, take in your current circumstance. At times, it is easy to get carried away with upcoming tasks or events. When planning a vacation, for example, you hope to enjoy your temporary stay. The preparations are complete and you have everything on your travelling list ready to check off. Yet, you end up disappointed. This may be why. You are too caught up trying to visit every mark on schedule without enjoying what your surroundings have to offer.

Stop. Be there. Appreciate who you are with and what you are doing. Indulge in a taste of the good life while you can.

 

Meditation
Credit: Greatist.com

4. Meditate

Many religions practice mindfulness through the form of meditation such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Meditators are able to release the tension they carry from school, work, internal and/or other external conflicts. They allow the body to return to a state of equilibrium and give the mind the opportunity to filter out negative thoughts that fester. Through meditation, you can also find the self-awareness that gets lost from time to time, making it possible for you to be less judgmental. With practice, mediation can even change the way you respond to pain.

A. If you are a beginner, guided-group meditations are a great start. Typically, there is someone to guide you through body, mind, and soul awareness. They also instruct you through breathing exercises.

B. If you run on a busier schedule, there are audio and video clips that can guide you through your meditation. Breathe is an iPhone application found in the App Store that provides those services for free. It has personalized meditation practices created on your time and based on your physical, mental, and emotional state.

C. If apps do not strike your fancy, then you can meditate on your own for an hour, half an hour, or even just five minutes. Here’s a generic step-by-step process.

1. Sit on a pillow with your legs crosses or on a chair.

2. Place your hands on your knees.

3. Sit in a comfortable position, so your back does not ache in the midst of the meditation.

4. Close your eyes and pay close attention to your breathing as your nostrils, chest, and stomach expand and contract.

5. Allow your body to relax as you inhale and exhale deeply.

6. Once your body is relaxed, breathe as you normally would .

7. If your thoughts begin to distract you from the awareness of your breath, then allow that positive or negative thought to come and pass.

8. Return back to the awareness of your breath by breathing normally.

9. Repeat steps as necessary for the amount of time desired.

 

deep-breathing
Credit: Dan Saelinger

5. Practice Deep-Breathing Exercises

Whether you’re angry at your boss or at the pizza guy for forgetting the cup of cheese, someday in some way, something is bound to upset you.  It is the nature of living. Regardless, you always have a choice. You can choose to react negatively or positively. When you practice deep-breathing, you are more likely to react in a sane, calm or collected manner.

Deep-breathing gives you an opportunity to pause and redirect your approach to situations. In the event that you experience an anxiety or panic attack, which may paralyze your logical reasoning, remember the word “breathe.” Say “breathe” out loud if you must. Then, inhale deeply for four seconds, hold it for your four seconds, and exhale for four seconds. Repeat this step until you have regained awareness and control over your senses. You have agency over your breathing so please use it.

 

affirmations
Credit: Pinterest

6. Use Positive Affirmations

Positive affirmations tap into one’s psyche just as speaking properly to a baby affects his or her motor, vocal, cognitive, and social development. You may not be able to control what others say to you, but you can decide what you say to yourself. You also have the power to decide how you feel about yourself. Implementing daily positive affirmations can gradually shift from a negative or uncertain perspective into a self-reflecting and motivating one.

There are multitudes of inspiring and wise statements about gratitude, love, happiness, and confidence meant to uplift and motivate you. You can start implementing them by writing a list of positive affirmations and reciting them every morning. It may seem odd at first, but the upright intention is there. With some time and dedication, you will fully believe in these affirmations, and embrace the new layers of growth with each passing day.

 

art expression
Credit: Yogajournal.com

7. Partake in Art Expression

Artistic expression is not limited to any singular art form –painting, writing, acting, and producing music to name a few. There is something so liberating and rejuvenating about crafting a ceramic bowl from its raw form. By the token, there is nothing like playing the intense role of a contracted hitman, and then going back home to enjoy a sushi roll… or three. Or, how about the beautiful toils of writing out your script idea and watching it come to life.

Oh, you are not fond of these traditional art forms? Then try coloring books for adults. Coloring books have been around since the 1880s, but they have recently gained momentum. They do not require creative searching or skillset, which may provoke anxiety and/or stress in some people. Coloring these concrete and contained images helps you unwind and provides a sense of security. They also have mental health benefits such as self-awareness, tranquility, and stress-relief.

These artistic passions are therapeutic in that they soothe the soul. They envelop the parts of the soul that need tenderness, love, and care. Without these as the foundation to your life, you are likely to fall apart or grow cold.

 

yoga
Credit: Yogajournal.com

8. Practice Yoga

Stretching has been known to release tension from the body. However, yoga goes beyond mere sketching exercises. Yoga practices have existed for approximately 4,000 years now and not just for the fun of it. Yoga taps into realms of physical, mental, and spiritual consciousness. It is meant to bring awareness and balance to you through simple meditation, breath control, and intricate bodily postures.

During its practice, your bones relax whilst you free the firm grip on your sorrows. The brain chatter you may have piled up is also silenced for the time being. Yoga truly is all about the present moment. It is designed to sharpen your concentration and soothe your three major muscles: Brain, body, and spirit.

 

Good luck, friends.

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