Thursday, October 17, 2013

How to Be More Mindful


This is an excerpt from an article I wrote recently for GoodLife magazine. I wanted to share a piece of it with you, because interviewing these two lovely mindful meditation teachers was a real eye opener for me. Although I try my best to see the art in everyday life, I am often guilty of a "racing" mind and of forgetting to live in the present moment.


If you’ve ever driven your car through an intersection and then wondered if the light was red, you know how easy it is to get lost in your thoughts. With the mad rush to get to work, get home from work, get dinner on the table, chauffeur children around and complete a multitude of other daily tasks, you might be excused for sometimes failing to live in the present moment.

But that lack of awareness could catch up with you one day. That was the case for Darlene Nicholson. A registered nurse, Ms. Nicholson says she spent many years of her life trying to control everyone and everything. At the age of 45, she was running a successful foot-care business and working up to 60 hours a week.

“I was angry, judgmental and domineering in my home life,” she says. “To the outside world I appeared confident and successful, but deep down I was depressed, insecure, lost and very alone.” Ms. Nicholson says the stress caused her to burn out and become sick. “My life as I knew it fell apart,” she says. “It was only through years of counseling, personal growth workshops and the practices of yoga and meditation that I began to create a more satisfying and joyful life.”


Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction



Ms. Nicholson discovered Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn and his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). The program incorporates meditation and gentle yoga to reduce stress and promote healing. In a society that often focuses on material wealth, Ms. Nicholson says mindful meditation can help you pay more attention to your inner voice rather than being driven by “wants.” She is now a certified kripalu and yin yoga teacher and has completed professional training with Dr. Kabat-Zinn.

She acknowledges that many people, women in particular, find it difficult to carve out time for meditation each day. “Twenty minutes of time in this crazy, busy world is almost impossible, and that’s sad,” she says. “There are so many demands on us and we often put ourselves last. To create a life that has meaning, we need to put ourselves first.”

While meditation and yoga are key to MBSR, proponents say that mindfulness extends beyond these scheduled opportunities. “Mindfulness means paying attention in the present moment with compassionate awareness and acceptance,” says Ms. Nicholson. “For me, as I often find myself rushing through life, mindfulness is a reminder to slow down, be more aware of where I am going, who I am with and what I am doing.”


Mindfulness for Beginners


While the idea of meditation can be frightening for many, Ms. Nicholson says you’re not expected to “quiet” your mind, only to acknowledge your thoughts and not be disturbed by them. “There’s always going to be stress and fluctuating emotions,” she says. “The goal in mindfulness is to watch, to witness, rather than getting lost in our thoughts.”

MBSR instructor Cheryl Crosby suggests these easy steps for beginners:

  • As soon as you wake and before you go to sleep, close your eyes and become aware of your breath for a few moments.
  • Notice what thoughts, sensations, emotions and sounds show up in your awareness. If you get lost in any of those, come back to being aware of the breath.
  • Even just two minutes in the morning and before you go to sleep can make a difference in your life.

Read the full article (which outlines the health benefits of MBSR) here. (Starts on page 72.)


Are you taking steps to be more mindful in your everyday living?

12 comments:

  1. I love this and I love the excerpt from your article. I think mindfulness is something we can all benefit from, me included!

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    1. Thanks Keith. I bet you are pretty good at being mindful though. :)

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  2. Man do I need this! Thank you for sharing :)

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    1. Hard to be mindful with a little one in the house, isn't it?

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  3. I love this! Mindfulness is a huge piece of natural stress reduction and is something our culture is terrible at. Thanks so much for sharing!

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    1. So true Laura. I really need to work on this myself!

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  4. Love it! And wonderful that you are writing for GoodLife, busy woman!

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    1. Thank you. I'm always happy to be writing. :)

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  5. Yay-- on being mindful & on your writing for GoodLife!

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  6. I struggle with this so much! I recently read a piece on Huffington Post that basically said the reason adults feel like the years fly by so quickly is that we are less mindful that children, and that mindfulness slows down our perception of time passing. So interesting. Can't wait to read the full article - saving it for my lunch break. :)

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    1. That is such a great point Heather! Totally true I bet. We are just rushing through life, aren't we?

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