“Be where you are, otherwise, you will miss your life.”- Buddha
The Present Moment
How much of the here and now do we miss by contemplating the past, anticipating the future, or holding on to expectations of how things should be? According to a group of researchers, we miss close to half of what this present moment has to offer.
It has been found that our minds wander approximately 47% of the time, and what’s more, is that a wandering mind seems to be the cause of an unhappy mind.
Mindfulness, on the other hand, may allow us to better attend to the stressful and sometimes painful circumstances of day-to-day life, and to savor the sweet and joyous moments more fully.
What are Mindfulness and What Are the Benefits?
Put simply, mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose and without judgment, to the present. Studies show that when this type of attention is practiced, countless health benefits can follow.
Mindfulness helps reduce blood pressure and decrease pain perception. It can also improve sleep, stress, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, and even inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis.
Ways of Cultivating Mindfulness
With our fast-paced world, and 24/7 connectivity, it can be a challenge to regularly still the mind and settle into what’s here right now – for this reason, mindfulness is a “practice.”
However, here are a few simple ways to start bringing mindfulness into your life:
- Live each day like it’s your first
Go about your day-to-day activities with a sense of wonder and a child-like curiosity. Whether on a walk, or having a meal, take in the sights, sounds, and smells as if you were experiencing them for the first time.
- Find your feet
When you notice your mind wandering or ruminating, find your feet. Tuning into physical body sensations can anchor our mind back into the here and now. You can bring attention to how your feet carry your weight, their contact points with the ground, or the movement of your toes.
Start each day off with a list of 3 things you’re grateful for. This can prime your mind to be more available to even the smallest of gifts brought in by each new day.
- Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
For a more structured approach to learning mindfulness and meditation, MBSR is an 8-week program done with the guidance of a teacher and the support of a group. There is growing scientific interest, and evidence specifically around this program. Practices taught in this course include body scans, seated meditations, and gentle yoga.
The beauty of mindfulness practice and the benefits that follow is that they are available to us in each moment of our lives wherever we go.
We just have to remember to be there.