The Mindful Way to Wellness
by Lynda Monk
Mindfulness involves being fully present and intentionally aware of the Now. Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Coming to our Senses, says "Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally."
According to Sue Patton Thoele, author of The Mindful Woman, "Mindfulness is being aware of yourself, others, and your surroundings in the moment." She suggests, "When consciously and kindly focusing awareness on life as it unfolds minute by precious minute, you are better able to savor each experience. Also, being closely attentive gives you the opportunity to change unwise or painful feelings and responses quickly. In fact, being truly present in a mindful way is an excellant stress reducer and, because of that, can be seen as a consciousness conditioning, a strengthening workout for body, mind, heart and spirit."
It is easy in our fast paced modern world, for life to become overwhelming, stressful, and exhausting. One of the ways to reduce stress and overwhelm, is to practice daily acts of self-care which come from a place of loving kindness, gratitude, compassion and mindfulness with self and others.
Sometimes people think to become more mindful requires going on an extended meditation retreat, removing themselves from daily distractions where there are long stretches of time to do nothing, and simply be. While such moments certainly can help cultivate mindfulness, they are not required to live a mindful life. More importantly, is the capacity to be consciously paying attention to what is going on right now, minimizing following thoughts to the past or projected to the future. Mindfulness is not about coming to a full stop and doing nothing, rather, it is about being fully present and aware while we are connected to what is going on right now, in this one moment. For example, as I write this article, I am aware of my breath moving in and out of my body, I am aware of the hum of the air conditioner, I hear my son playing with his Grandpa, and I notice I am thirsty and need a glass of water. I am here, writing, thinking, present. I am mindful.
It may feel like bringing your attention to greater mindfulness is arduous, or another thing to do, but in reality it is grounding, calming and centering. As such, it offers great support for our overall health and wellness. It helps us notice more, to appreciate more, to acknowledge ourselves and see the wonder of it all along the way. Mindfulness also gives us a chance to see what might not be working and points us in new directions, while being fully present right here and now. Overall, mindfulness is a rich pathway to self-care and self-discovery, both essential elements to well-being in mind, body, heart and spirit.
Try this: Mindfully Invite a Quality You Want More of in Your Life, in the Moment
The following exercise is adapted from the book called "The Mindful Woman" (2008). Although the following breath practice is very simple, it is incredibly effective. By using your breath mindfully, you will invite a quality to live within you and, as a result, express through you naturally. Simply pick a quality you would like to embrace (for example, love, patience, forgiveness, intuition, healing, joy...); for instance, earlier today I felt frustrated dealing with my overtired and squabbling sons. I choose to breathe in the quality of patience. As I did so, I noticed that I became calmer, quieter, less stressed and more effective in dealing with the situation at hand. Your turn - the steps for this exercise are: 1. Choose a quality you would like to embody. 2. Become aware of your breath. 3. As you inhale, imagine the quality being drawn deeply into your body and spirit. (It sometimes helps to give the quality a colour. For me, patience was a soft yellow colour.) 4. As you exhale, breathe out any resistance you may be holding toward anything - the practice, the quality, circumstances, whatever... 5. Consciously and deeply breathe in your chosen quality for at least seven full breaths, or more if doing so feels calming and centering. Enjoy the mindful way to wellness!
Lynda Monk may be contacted at http://www.creativewellnessworks.com
Lynda Monk, MSW, RSW, MSW educates and supports helping professionals, healers, and leaders to radically reduce stress, prevent burnout and create a well balanced life through the art of self-care. Lynda is the founder of Creative Wellness, an arts-based life and health coaching business that offers signature group coaching programs, replenishing retreats, training, speaking services, information products and holistic wellness resources. Lynda publishes a free bi-weekly Creative Wellness Tips & Tools Museletter offering you both inspiration and information for self-care in mind, body, heart and spirit in both life and work http://eepurl.com/exmc.