Mindfulness means different things to different people. While there are many ways to define it and practice it, I find this OST is my GPS to greater health.
Occupy Sanity Tool (OST): Mindfulness
As I suggested with the OST: Meditation “You May Be Meditating Without Even Knowing It,” applying Mindfulness to daily activities helps me feel “…more focused, grounded and…one of my inner peace indicators: satisfied.”
Jonn Kabat-Zinn, the founder of MBSR (Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction), says that mindfulness “…means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
A Simple Tool At Your Fingertips
Use this simple tool at your fingertips right now while reading this post.
Stop. Take a deep breath. Notice what you hear. Feel the phone or tablet in your hands or resting on your lap. Look at the screen. See the colors there. Notice if there are any aromas in the air. That may have taken you 20-30 seconds. Notice your breathing. Notice any changes in how you feel in your body, even slight ones.
Research continues to show that there are direct benefits to our physical and emotional health as a result of regularly practicing Mindfulness.
In the Harvard Health Article “Benefits of Mindfulness” multiple studies show:
“If greater well-being isn’t enough of an incentive, scientists have discovered that mindfulness techniques help improve physical health in a number of ways. Mindfulness can: help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties.”
Recalibrating When Off Course
The Free Mindfulness Project suggests:
“Mindfulness can be described as paying attention to what we are experiencing in this moment and doing so with a particular attitude: One of curiosity, openness, acceptance and warmth. Simply observing what we are experiencing, right now, and bringing a warm curiosity to whatever arises.”
I recently had some experience with using Mindfulness as a GPS when I went through a particularly stressful couple of weeks. My home, business & personal life were going through multiple changes all at the same time. As is my habit, I put my head down and carried on until I reached my deadlines and goals, and handled emergencies. Although this was exhilarating and efficient, I found myself short on time to replenish myself. While this way of functioning has served me well for much of my life, it leaves me feeling depleted, which in the past meant I would overeat lots of sugar & carbs to compensate.
Since July, I have made significant changes in my diet to include healthier choices. My cravings for sugar & carbs had reduced significantly, and now I saw that my current stressors might push me back into some unhealthy habits.
This time I used the OST: Mindfulness as my GPS to guide me to find an attitude of ‘…curiosity, openness, acceptance, and warmth’ toward my habit of overeating. I noticed when my cravings most often occurred and paid attention to what I was feeling, thinking, hearing, seeing, etc. I observed that the most intense cravings occurred at night.
When I asked myself to identify the feeling(s) most often, the answer came back: deprived. Then I asked myself, deprived of what? And what would you like to have or need? Within days I identified when I had the most intense cravings: when I was tired and worse yet – OVER tired.
Primed with the best ‘GPS coordinates’ to determine my needs and wants, I could recalibrate my course toward healthier habits. For example, I now choose to take breaks throughout the day to replenish myself with activities that enable me to laugh, relax, move, and stretch.
Also, the most straightforward, perhaps too obvious choice is to make an effort to get more restful sleep!
Now it’s your turn. Try Mindfulness as a GPS to guide you and let us know about your experience in the comments below.