Have you ever arrived at your destination, only to realize you didn’t “see” anything along the way? Or sat down to watch TV with a snack and eaten the whole thing? Or maybe engaged in a conversation only to realize that you didn’t “hear” a word that was spoken? Maybe we’ve all had some of these happen at some point in time or another, but in short we’ve lost a moment in reality. Daily stressors in life may cause us to detour (mentally and physically) the life we really want to live.
I’ve participated in an 8 week class entitled “Mindfulness in Motion” by Dr. Maryanna Klatt from OSU College of Medicine. It is a researched-based program that offers pragmatic resiliency tools that can be easily implemented in the workplace to reduce daily stress and increase productivity and work engagement. The content and structure of the weekly sessions emphasize body relaxation with soft background music preceding the discussion of mindful awareness of cognitive habits. The research indicates a significant decrease in perceived stress, an increase in sleep quality, work engagement, and one’s perceptions of well-being/stress at work.
Think about the food you last ate. How did it look on the plate or feel in your hand (if it was a snack)? How did it smell? Was it smooth or crisp, salty or sweet? What else were you doing at the time and was the food just a “habit” that you engaged in? The daily routines that we have ultimately lead to our life as a whole. If, we are constantly wishing for today to end, or this week to be over, or I’ll be happy when… those days may never come. Finding some peace and happiness along the way is something that only each of us can do alone, no one else can make us happy.
- There were some challenging questions to answer. I’ll ask the same of you to really ponder and process in your own life:
- What do you care about most in life?
- What gives you the most pleasure in life?
- What are your greatest worries?
- When you think of the biggest “stressors” in life, what would they be?
“Live in the moment” is a phrase that we all have heard and many times attempt to apply in our personal lives. Dr. Klatt shares that although we try to shrug off daily stress, we need to learn how to mindfully enjoy the present, without the worry of the stress around us. The National Institute of Health identifies it as “being completely aware of what’s happening in the present---all that’s going on inside and all that’s happening around you.”
So my challenge for you is for the next hour of your life, really pay attention to the little things around you, here are a few things to get you started thinking:
- What sounds do you hear when you close your eyes?
- What textures are on your fingertips right now?
- What do you smell? What memories do they bring?
- How fast is your heart beating? How do your neck and shoulders feel?
It’s amazing to me, that when I pause even for a few minutes to really concentrate and absorb the things around me I can change my perspective. I’m slowly working toward her goal for us, “to slow down and be present for what’s there.” That is her definition of Mindfulness. I invite you to try it and if you might be interested in learning more or attending a class please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy Spring!
Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.