What is going on in your life right now that has made you decide to explore mindfulness? In my practice, Athanasios Gomatos Life Coach, I see people being attracted to this concept due to many various issues – stress, sleep disruptions, relationship concerns and even mental health illnesses. Sadly stress has become a part of our everyday lives, some would even say an “expectation”. This is problematic, because we live in such a heightened state of arousal for so much of the time, our bodies and mind never have the opportunity to calm down.
According to the Work Health Organization, 20-25% of people will experience mental health illness due to chronic stress.
The question is, why are so many people feeling this way, overwhelmed and even disconnected? With the ever evolving development of smartphone technology and social media, we can easily notice the disconnect we are experiencing as humans throughout the world. Being so ‘checked in’ to our phones and readily available to anyone and anything at any time, means that our conscious minds have become incredibly busy, and many of us have developed a serious condition- Fear Of Missing Out.
Technology is not going away, nor should it. There are way too many positive aspects to wish it away. Now the question begs, what can we do as humans to adapt to the ever evolving technological advancements without losing our human touch? Let’s explore these three practical ways in which we can integrate a bit more mindfulness in our daily lives in order to recenter ourselves to better manage our minds and lives.
What is Mindfulness?
- It is the practice of not doing and just being.
- It’s about purposely allowing the body and mind to come to rest in the moment; simply allowing ourselves to be in the moment with things exactly as they are without trying to change anything. Essentially you become the observer of your thoughts.
- Mindful awareness allows us to become more sensitive to what is occurring in the present moment, both within ourselves and also in the outside world.
- Mindfulness greatly reduces our reactivity to situations that aren’t pleasing to us. Allowing us to remain calm and absorb the information more clearly before jumping to conclusions or becoming defensive, essentially triggering our :fight or flight” response.
How long does Mindfulness take?
This is a great question, practicing mindfulness may seem like a chore at first. Once you begin integrating this into your daily life, it will no longer feel like something that needs to be done, it will become an essential part of your life. Now, studies show that shorter mindful moments more often have a greater benefit to us than longer moments of mindfulness occasionally.
I suggest to my clients to begin with 5 minutes, twice a day of either one of the exercises below. You can mix it up, pick one of these for your morning routine and a different one for your nighttime routine. Mindfulness practice is personal to you and will evolve as you dive into this concept and more so when you begin feeling the wonderful effects it’s having on your life.
“If you can resist the impulse to claim each and every thought as your own, you will come to a startling conclusion: you will discover that you are the consciousness in which the thoughts appear and disappear.” ~ Annamalai Swami
1- Wake-up With Purpose:
This practice is best done first thing in the morning, before checking phones or email.Upon waking, sit in your bed, and take three deep breaths. Ask yourself: “What is my intention for today?” Your intention should be personal to you. Once you have decided on your intention. “set” your intention for the day. For example, you could say “Today, I will be kind to myself; be patient with others and nourish my body with delicious healthy food” or anything else you feel is important or resonates with you.
Check in with yourself, mid morning, early afternoon and dinnertime. Pause, take a breath, and revisit your intention. As you become more conscious of your intentions for each day, how the quality of your communications, relationships, and mood shifts.
2- Have an Attitude of Gratitude
Keeping a journal is no child’s play! Taking 5 minutes everyday, to reflect on what you are grateful for is an instant dose of pure grounding mindfulness. This can be as simple or as complex as you wish but here’s a quick way to get you going and inspired.
The positive effects of gratitude writing compound like interest. You might not notice the benefit of a daily or weekly practice, but after several weeks and months, you will and so will those around you.
Dear Universe, Jan 29th 2021
I am ever so thankful for my morning coffee. I am grateful for my life. I am grateful for my health and my family’s well-being. I am grateful for my home and the safety it provides. I am thankful for my reliable car and the security of my job. I am grateful for my loving friends and family. I am grateful for my abundance of clothes to wear and delicious food to eat.
Again the idea is to make this your own. As you begin to think about things to be grateful for, you will soon notice awesome feelings of love and wonderful memories pop up in your mind. Journaling daily will allow you to have thoughts of gratitude throughout your day and this in turn will inspire you to keep journaling!
1- Get Personal, Don’t Take It Personal
You’d be surprised how refreshed and sharp your mind will be if you allow yourself to step away from something for even a single session of mindful breathing or meditation. When you first start your mindfulness practice (or if you have already) you’ll probably find it extraordinarily difficult not to become distracted. The key is not to become overwhelmed with trying to relax.
Start slow, and give yourself a chance. Start with 10 minutes. If you have never meditated, starting off with a 5, 7 or even 10 minute guided meditation will really help you get into a peaceful state of mind. Most people quit meditating after a few tries, they claim that their mind won’t shut off. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but your mind is not supposed to shut off, that would mean you were dead!
The objective of mediation is to create an awareness of how much chatter goes on in your mind, and for you to become conscious of the insane amounts of negative, useless or simply ridiculous thoughts that pop into your mind. With time and practise you will train your mind to notice the thoughts, and release them by focusing your attention on them or feeling any emotion. You will become the observer and this will allow you the freedom to see and let go of all that no longer serves you in your life.