This week is the second class in a series of Mindful Wellness that I’ve enjoyed sharing as lunch and learns in the building. Mindfulness is described as “Paying attention in a particular way: On purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” (Jon Kabat-Zinn)
Stress is prevalent in our lives, both personal and professional. Each day we are challenged to “swing from task to task” and keep our focus to get things done. It’s reported that every 11 minutes we have interruptions and it takes about 22 minutes to regain our focus. Mindfulness is a way to pay attention to the tasks at hand and accomplish them in a focused manner. Our breath is a convenient way of paying attention to our body. It goes with us everywhere and can serve as an anchor for our fleeting attention. It slows down our minds and allows us to get in control. Breathing more slowly is a metaphor for living more slowly. Concentrating on how our body feels allows us to center ourselves. Noticing how our body feels is a way of grounding us and helps us feel balanced and strong. Our brains are filled with thoughts, and sometimes we can control the outcomes just by thinking differently. Mindfulness has a positive effect on the area of the brain that processes our emotions. It evens out the emotions and brings them into balance.
What do I want to pay attention to today? Setting an intention is an important part of mindset. You can set your intention as a part of your formal practice or informally while performing many of the tasks we do out of habit: brushing your teeth, taking a shower, walking to the car, or driving to work.
Mindfulness can be done both formally and informally. A simple example of informal is ask yourself 3 things. What 3 things do I see, I hear, and I feel. Try it, close your eyes where you are, and ask yourself the questions and see where your mind goes.
A formal practice can be found on YouTube or OSU Medical Center or even just google Mindfulness Meditations. You can choose them with music or not and the length of time you have available. Pick a certain time of day to put this to practice. If you start the day with it you become focused and look for the positive outcomes. If at lunchtime, it’s a nice break from the task list to become focused and if at night, it can help you get a good night’s sleep. Whatever time you choose, just be consistent and try to build a new habit. If you play an instrument, you know you need to practice to keep your skills sharp. If you play sports, practice makes you more effective. The same is true with mindfulness, practice is the key to keeping the stress in your life down and your effectiveness up.
As you reflect on the possibilities, just choose one practice that fits your lifestyle. One new behavior that can help your mind and body connect to slow down the moments, to focus and enjoy the present.