Guest Blogger Desiree Robers of Vida Health shares her perspective:
The word mindfulness can bring about many feelings for each of us. I know it certainly does for me. In a world where multitasking seems to be a prerequisite, how can we incorporate stillness and just being in an ever-changing and fast-paced world?
Mindfulness — let’s break apart the actual word itself: mind + full+ ness
If we delve into the importance of mindfulness, we can see the word as Necessary Fullness (at one) with the Mind.
In order to receive fullness in all its forms, emptiness is the necessary condition.
So we might ask ourselves what formula we can adapt into our day-to-day routine to be able to achieve mindfulness. That fullness might not have anything to do with putting more into our lives but rather releasing something. Great thought, isn’t it? We are constantly told we have to do more, and yet mindfulness is actually doing less and releasing! It is actually about being present with moments of careers, family, loved ones, friends, hobbies, health, desires and visions. Experiencing each of them in the moment they are happening.
I know personally for me what depletes mindfulness is multitasking. There are real health risks with multitasking. It can reduce productivity by approximately 40 percent according to some researchers. One researcher, David Meyer at the University of Michigan, told United Press International when people go back and forth between activities, such as browsing the Internet to talking on a cell phone, for example, they are using areas of the brain called the prefrontal cortex and the parietal cortex. The mental processes involved in switching tasks, however, can take fractions of a second, which add up during multitasking. Other health risks of multitasking include mental burnout, anxiety and depression.
Multitasking has become a workplace — and even a household — buzzword as e-mails, cell phones, tablets and other technological advances push mainstream culture into what critics have sometimes dubbed a 24/7 lifestyle, where people are constantly “on” 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Personally I have seen a growing interest in self-relaxation practices, such as yoga, meditation, T’ai Chi, and light therapy, all of which emphasize quieting the mind. These practices will become even more popular as people continue trying to juggle multiple tasks at once.
At San Jose University in San Jose, CA, home to the ever-multitasking Silicon Valley, researchers Charles Darrah, J. A. English-Lueck and James Freeman write that this constant life-on-the-go pace can make people feel a lack of control over their lives. If you’re finding that your hours are filled with doing several different things at once, then you may find you fall into the “heavy multitasker” category. This type of multitasking can take a massive toll on your body, mind and spirit.
So what are some nurturing tools we can incorporate into our lives to maintain balance?
I like to think of it as the 3 P’s – (not) Projecting, (being) Present and Peace.
There is more than one way to practice mindfulness, but the goal of any mindfulness technique is to achieve a state of alert, focused relaxation by deliberately paying attention to thoughts and sensations without judgment. This allows the mind to refocus on the present moment.
Basic mindfulness meditation – Sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing or on a word or “mantra” that you repeat silently. Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment and return to your focus on breath or mantra.
If greater well-being isn’t enough of an incentive, scientists have discovered the benefits of mindfulness techniques help improve physical health in a number of ways.
- help relieve stress
- treat heart disease
- lower blood pressure
- reduce chronic pain
- improve sleep
- alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties
Mindfulness improves mental health:
In recent years, psychotherapists have turned to mindfulness meditation as an important element in the treatment of a number of problems, including:
- substance abuse
- eating disorders
- couples’ conflicts
- anxiety disorders
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
Some experts believe that mindfulness works, in part, by helping people to accept their experiences—including painful emotions—rather than react to them with aversion and avoidance.
Mindfulness improves well being:
- Increasing your capacity for mindfulness supports many attitudes that contribute to a satisfied life.
- Being mindful makes it easier to savor the pleasures in life as they occur, helps you become fully engaged in activities, and creates a greater capacity to deal with adverse events.
- By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and are better able to form deep connections with others.
So next time you find yourself overwhelmed, multitasking and looking for a sense of mindfulness, remember the words of Eckhart Tolle – “In today’s rush we all think too much – seek too much – want too much – and forget about the joy of just being.”
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