MIndfulness

BE Here Now

Have you ever driven to a destination only to realize you don’t remember getting there?

According to a study published by the Harvard Gazette, people are often thinking about something other than what they’re doing, and this mind-wandering typically makes them unhappy. Sound familiar?

The average person is on autopilot 47% during waking hours.

Maybe you’ve begun wondering “how did I get here?” as you realize that you’ve been replaying old patterns, sleepwalking through life, numbing yourself with habits that no longer serve you.  Welcome!  Every moment leading up to this one has gotten you to this precious, present moment.  How beautiful that you now get to choose a different path. 
 

This is your moment to WAKE UP,
REIGNITE your fire
and be more PRESENT in the NOW

Taking a moment to go into stillness and silence will benefit you and those you interact with.  This is not an intellectual exercise – it is a self-rediscovery of the light within you by connecting to your mind, body and spirit with practice.  

And yes, you will have thoughts – we have approximately 60,000 thoughts a day (one every 1.4 seconds).  Can you detach from the thoughts?  Maybe, you will even connect to the moments between the thoughts – see you in the “gap”!

Credit: Sandra James via Visually

“Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear?  Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?  – Lao Tzu

Techniques and Tools

A selection of practices ranging from just 16 seconds to mantra-based meditation practices:

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16 Seconds to Clarity

4 seconds: Breathe in deeply and slowly
4 seconds: Hold your breathe on the inhale
4 seconds: Exhale slowly and fully
4 seconds: Hold your breathe on the exhale

This is a great exercise that can literally be done anywhere – in the middle of traffic, during a heated debate with a loved one or just reconnecting with nature on a walk.  Consider using this quick technique in preparation for an important discussion or to refocus yourself while in a meeting.  The clock on your computer can monitor the seconds and provides a way for you to look like you’re diligently working, when you may just be getting your calm on!

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Gratitude Exercise

2-minute gratitude practice.  Daily habit to give thanks and provide a reminder for all the good.  The more specific the thoughts, the bigger impact will be felt.  I like to make sure I include 3 types of gratitude:

  • current appreciation right now in this moment: it may be as simple as the ability to breathe!  That is not a given for everyone and it truly is a gift.
  • recent experience that you pause and appreciate: example “I am so grateful that my mom cooked amazing enchiladas for me tonight.  I truly appreciate someone spending time to consider me.  Plus, that hot sauce was super yum-my!”
  • celebration of where I am now in reference to a previous milestone:  we are so often looking ahead to the next goal, its easy to forget to pause and congratulate ourselves.  Maybe think back to where you were 1, 3 or 5 years ago and enjoy a peek at how the journey has gotten you right here and now.
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Meditation

You can practice silent meditation, focusing on the inhale and exhalation of your breath or maybe you prefer to repeat a mantra, such as “I am” or a the equivalent Sanskrit phrase “So hum”.   Check out our Resources and Youtube channel for a variety of guided meditations, videos and book suggestions.

  • Get comfortable. There is no prize for twisting yourself into a pretzel-like position.  Sit in a chair, lie down, use a cushion or go for lotus position – whatever works for you is the best method!
  • Make it a habit.  Same time everyday.  Start with 2-5 minutes everyday.  Once you’re able to maintain that for 2 weeks, increase the time.  Just 10 minutes a day can provide that self-care and reboot to reconnect with yourself.
  • You will have thoughts.  How cool!  Can you allow them to drift by like clouds and not judge?

The Science

Behind the Scenes

New research is practically released daily with so much research happening real-time in schools, hospitals and scientific labs.  The underlying concept is that when we quiet the mind via breathing techniques, gratitude exercise or meditation, the amygdala begins to shrink – with significant changes documented in as little as 8 weeks ¹.

The amygdala – that’s the part of our brain responsible for our “Fight or Flight” response.  We’re a pretty resilient species and the amygdala really helped us thousands of years ago when we were being chased by dangerous predators, like tigers in the wild.  Even though that’s not the case for most of us anymore, our innate wiring hasn’t caught up yet, so when that emergency email comes in from your boss, the amygdala still triggers that ol’ reaction to being in danger!  

What’s really interesting is that not only does the amygdala begin to shrink with meditation practice, so we no longer REACT as spontaneously; at the same time, the pre-frontal cortex, which is associated with  brain functions such as awareness, concentration and decision-making, becomes thicker.  So the final result is more RESPONDING and less reacting to situations.

¹ Dispositional Mindfulness Co-Varies with Smaller Amygdala and Caudate Volumes in Community Adults.  Published: May 22, 2013.