Yoga has woven itself into my life beyond asana (the physical practice). I’ve carried the joy, peace and calm I find on the mat into my day to day life and I’ve been able to do this, in part, due to mindfulness.
Being present on the mat became a natural state with a regular yoga practice. Off the mat and in life? At first, not so much. The mindfulness I experienced during yoga was, at the time, elusive in life.
Many of us persistently wear multitasking and overbusyness as a badge of honor.
You know the feeling. When life is moving quickly and we effortlessly kick into autopilot going about everyday tasks. Sound familiar?
LIFE IS A BEAUTIFUL GIFT AND EVERY MAGICAL MOMENT DESERVES TO BE WHOLEHEARTEDLY LIVED.
Just because you’re busy and distracted doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the details of life.
I have become more conscious about making the most out of each and every day.
THE BENEFITS OF MINDFULNESS [FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE]
Increase enjoyment in life. I enjoy life more if I’m present rather than having my mind elsewhere and on things other than that moment.
Reduce stress. In being present there are no worries. There is just experiencing all the moment has to offer.
Build better relationships. When you really commit yourself to being with someone, to listening to them, you are being a better father, husband, friend, daughter, girlfriend. You have better conversations. You connect more deeply.
Just being. Slow down, take a deep breath, and marvel in the feeling of unhurried moments of time.
Mindfulness techniques are some of the best lifestyle tools we have to control stress, improve sleep and even avoid illness.
Being mindful in the real world isn’t always easy, but a growing body of research attests to the profound mind-body benefits of getting centered.
WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH SAY?
Practicing mindfulness can actually change the body and the brain and have positive effects on your psychological well-being.
Researchers at Harvard have established scientific proof that meditation can change the brain’s gray matter.
After 8 weeks of practicing mindfulness exercises for an an average of 27 minutes per day, MRI scans of participants showed that mindfulness:
- stimulated a significant increase in the density of gray matter in the hippocampus, important for learning and memory;
- increased the density of gray matter in other neural structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection;
- decreased the density of gray matter in the amygdala – the part of the brain associated with anxiety and stress.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder and former director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, helped to bring the practice of mindfulness meditation into mainstream medicine. He demonstrated that practicing mindfulness can bring improvements in both physical and psychological symptoms as well as positive changes in health attitudes and behaviors.
Mindfulness improves physical health:
- help relieve stress
- treat heart disease
- lower blood pressure
- reduce chronic pain
- improve sleep
- alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties
Mindfulness improves mental health as an important element in the treatment of a number of problems, including:
- substance abuse
- eating disorders
- couples’ conflicts
- anxiety disorders
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
STILL NOT SURE? THERE’S MORE.
According to the University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Mindfulness, mindfulness can also help to:
HOW YOU CAN TRAIN YOUR BRAIN TO LIVE IN THE PRESENT
Although I highly recommend it, you don’t have to practice yoga to learn how to live in the present.
There are little things that you can do anywhere and anytime to cultivate a mindfulness mindset.
Focus on your breath. Notice the physical sensations of each inhale and exhale and feeling where your breath is in the body.
Don’t try to clear your mind. Our brains don’t work that way. Instead of trying to clear your mind, acknowledge your thoughts and then allow them to float by like a leaf on a river or a cloud in the sky.
Focus on your body. Notice how your body feels at this very moment. Think about how strong your body is and acknowledge all that it can do.
Count your blessings. Think about everything in your life for which you’re grateful and allow that feeling to take over your body and ground you in the here and now.
Being present will help you feel the cool breeze on your skin, the warm sun on your face and the full joy of being with the people you love. Beautiful little details in life that are often missed.
Words to inspire mindful living:
The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it. – Thich Nhat Hanh
With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment. – Thich Nhat Hanh
Do every act of your life as though it were the very last act of your life. – Marcus Aurelius
It’s about living your life as if it really mattered, moment by moment by moment. – Jon Kabat-Zinn
In this moment, there is plenty of time. In this moment, you are precisely as you should be. In this moment, there is infinite possibility. – Victoria Moran
Impermanence is a principle of harmony. When we don’t struggle against it, we are in harmony with reality. – Pema Chodron
The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing. – Jon Kabat-Zinn
If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath. – Amit Ray
Respond; don’t react. Listen; don’t talk. Think; don’t assume. – Raji Lukkoor
Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it. – Sylvia Boorstein
In Asian languages, the word for ‘mind’ and the word for ‘heart’ are the same word. So when we hear the word ‘mindfulness’, we have to inwardly also hear ‘heartfulness’ in order to grasp it even as a concept, and especially as a way of being. – Jon Kabat-Zinn
The more and more you listen, the more and more you hear; the more and more you hear, the deeper and deeper your understanding becomes. – Dudjom Rinpoche
In today’s rush, we all think too much — seek too much — want too much — and forget about the joy of just being. – Eckhart Tolle
Mindfulness isn’t difficult. We just need to remember to do it. – Sharon Salzberg
When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another – and ourselves. – Jack Kornfield
Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity. – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Do not dwell on the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. – Buddha
The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers. – Thich Nhat Hanh
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