The concept of mindfulness is not a new one. Being present with one thoughts and having it be reflective with actions in a non-judgmental way is the basic foundation of mindfulness. This practice is particularly useful in many different areas of our lives, such as vocation, relationships and community. How often do we pay attention to our actions? Last week I talked about cravings and recognizing the true “root” of the craving and sometimes it’s not food and sometimes you just want chocolate. Honoring this aspect in our lives is essential to whole body living. Enter mindfulness. Now, I tell individuals all the time that mindfulness is a practice. Usually people respond with “yeah, yeah, I get it”, but then return to me and are often frustrated. Practice means doing something often until it is mastered so look at mindfulness much like you would approach learning to play an instrument. At first you have no clue how to read music let alone know how to hold the instrument, but over time it becomes automatic. I then like to remind clients of the general principles of mindfulness or what I like to call, the return to center. The foundation of the return to center is all about your inner “speed”. What speed do you operate at? At what speed are you most effective or not? What speeds do you recognize there is an issue? This time of year can feel like you are on super fast-forward and don’t feel grounded or centered. Here are some tips to consider when your body is telling you to slow down and can help with mindfulness:
- Prioritize, smoreitize (wait, did you say s’mores?).By focusing on the most important tasks to get done, we eliminate the hustle and stress of trying to accomplish everything at once.
- Out out damn social media!Technology has become a major element in most of our lives. Social networking, email, and web-surfing can occasionally cause our minds to lose focus and wander through hundreds of topics, thoughts and ideas. Try to use half your designated Internet time to explore new hobbies, exercise or meditate.
- Embrace and explore your world. When time permits – take a 5 to 10 minute break to step outside and breath-in some fresh air. Disconnect from the rest of the world and concentrate on the beauty of nature.
- Eat Slower. A lot of us tend to speed through meals – missing the chance to appreciate different textures and flavors. Start to chew foods more slowly while trying to distinguish new tastes, aromas and consistencies.
- Authentic Connection: Connect with family and friends.We all try to make a considerable amount of time to spend with close friend and family. We discuss life events, exchange stories – but how often do we catch-up while truly listening and connecting? Put away the cellphones and steer clear of noisy environments. Connect on a deeper level.
- Make time for yourself.When’s the last time you spent valuable time by yourself? Take a night to find a new book, watch a favorite movie, try yoga, meditate or cook a new recipe.
- Time Bandit: Give yourself more time.Some of us like to stick to a tight schedule and plan all our daily events. Next time you’re jotting down new tasks in your planner, try to factor in a few extra minutes when estimating how long things will take. This will help you not rush through daily tasks.
- Take the long way home: It’s not only the best Supertramp song, but it also helps wind you down. Next time you’re driving a somewhat long distance – try taking the scenic route. Driving through open fields, mountains, or viewing a city skyline can be very relaxing. Check out the scenic routes before your next trip! My kids love this as I often will ask them, “what way do you want to drive home” and we try to see what new things we can spot on the way!
- Zen Space: Sit for a moment with your eyes closed when you start your computer. Even just a few moments of meditation can set the tone for the rest of your day. Try to empty your mind and take deep breaths before jumping into your day’s tasks.
- Remember your WHY. Each morning when you wake up, take a few moments to think about your life goals and aspirations. Try to recall the milestones you’ve already made in your life, and you’re drive to achieve new ones. Try doing this for about 5 minutes before finally getting out of bed to start your day.
Institute for Integrative Nutrition (2014)
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