As we enter a new year, I’ve spent some time reflecting on what I might like to see and do, or change in 2016. One thing that has become apparent to me in my father’s words “haste makes waste” or in other words, slow down and do it right the first time. I think most of you can relate to being busy, having a full schedule at home, work and your extra- curricular activities either with children or your own hobbies and interests. One of my goals for 2016 is to become more mindful of the life I live, to slow down and savor the time by absorbing the moment.
Why now? The first week of December, I lost my phone in a span of 15 minutes from home to work. I came to realize that because I was so rushed my memory of events caused a great inconvenience for a couple of weeks. No matter how I retraced my steps, I couldn’t undo the actions of being in a hurry. This caused me to rethink a topic I’ve had an interest in and you may hear about in the news: mindfulness. What is being mindful? Mindfulness is the mental foundation that keeps us grounded throughout the twists and turns of life. Intentional Mindfulness allows us to maximize enjoyment of positive experiences and minimize our reaction to negative experiences. Wake up to the life you are living.
Another goal of mindfulness is being resilient… using strategies that combat the negative things that happen to us in life. When I can do that, I can be more productive at work, focus more on the things that are important to me and have less stress in my life. How does that sound?
Research at the National Institute for Health found a link between mindfulness meditation and measureable changes in the brain regions involved in memory, learning and emotion. People that practice mindfulness are better able to manage stress and cope with illness, anxiety and depression.
Dr. Maryanna Klatt from OSU Medical Center has been working on this research for several years. She states, “It doesn’t matter what the stress is, but how you change the way you perceive the stress. Mindfulness is changing the way you see what’s already there. It’s a tool that teaches people to become aware of their options. If they can’t change the external events in their life, they can instead change the way they view the stress."
So how do I become more mindful in everyday life? There are several ways and much more information than I can share but here are a couple for starters, see if you notice a difference.
What did you eat for breakfast? How did it really taste or feel on your tongue or did you eat it so quickly that you didn’t notice? Try eating with awareness, enjoy the pleasure of food, turn off distractions and savor the flavor of each bite.
Breathe, deeply and with intention. If you are in line waiting, driving or at your desk, just take 2-3 minutes and notice what it feels like to really take deep breaths, in and out.
I hope to offer a 4 week class on Mindfulness beginning February , watch our website at https://wayne.osu.edu for more information.