A: This question is relevant to today’s culture. Every year we move at an even faster pace with heavier schedules. It’s no wonder our health is plummeting and mindfulness is the new hot topic. It’s important to slow down, but before I get into suggestions, here are a reasons why we should all make mindfulness a priority.
Mindfulness, and especially meditation, activates our parasympathetic nervous system. This is our rest and digest response as opposed to our fight or flight response. When this system is activated our blood pressure drops, stress hormones slow or stop and the blood begins to flow into every nook and cranny of the body cleansing us of what does not serve us. In other words, our immune systems begin to function better, our minds are clearer, we sleep better, and have less bouts of anxiety or depression. It’s the exact opposite of how we typically function day to day; in go, go, go mode.
Therefore, being mindful is just as important as diet and exercise. So back to your question, your schedule isn’t changing so how can you add it into what you already do?
One of the best quotes by Mary Oliver is this:
This advice is your answer.
PAY ATTENTION - Instead of moving through your day with your mind in the past or focused on a future event, spend some time focusing what you are doing in this very moment. Here are a few examples:
- When in the shower, instead of thinking about the to-do list for the day, focus on the way the water feels on your skin, the smell of the shampoo, and the sound of the bubbles in your hair. Take your shower, but use your senses instead of your mind.
- Really taste your food. Don’t talk, don’t hurry through your meal. Take your time to notice how the food really tastes. Do you even like it?
- Feel the steering wheel in your car and your body in the seat. Really using your senses to feel present while sitting in your car and driving down the road. What does it feel like in your body to be going 50 MPH?
- BE ASTONISHED - Find the feeling of connection. You are here, in this moment, with all the good and bad around you and within you. You. Are. Here. Find the gratitude in those moments. What makes it so special, even if it’s the tiniest thing.
- TELL ABOUT IT - The best mindful practice comes in the form of keeping a gratitude journal. At the end of your day, perhaps while brushing your teeth, take a few moments to write down five things from your day that you are grateful for. This mind body practice reinforces all that you focused on during the day making it easier for tomorrow.
All this to say that being mindful will help you become a happier, healthier person. Best of luck on your mindfulness practice. As you can see, it’s a lot easier to add to your schedule than one would think.