Mindfulness can be described as a state of present-moment awareness in which we exist as the conscious observer of our thoughts and sensory experiences. Mindfulness is paramount to any Yoga practice and is a valuable skill to carry into life off the mat. So, why bring mindfulness into your daily life?
~Being mindful fosters acceptance~
When we bring ourselves into the present moment we remember that all is well; we are breathing, alive, loving, compassionate individuals. When we feel resistant to something in our lives or unable to accept a situation we can consciously reel ourselves back in by asking the simple question: What is wrong right now? Most of the time, the answer is nothing—all of our basic needs are met—and if they’re not, we bring attention to that which needs to be changed so that we can come into a place of greater peace.
~Being mindful reduces stress~
With practice, we learn to notice when the body and mind are under stress and to control our mental and physical reactions by activating the parasympathetic nervous system—our most calm, relaxed, natural state; the state we want to exist in most of the time (unless we are in danger and need to react accordingly). We can activate this healing state by simply closing the eyes and breathing slowly and steadily in and out through the nose. When we do this, we notice a sense of calm radiating throughout the body and we bring the mind into the present moment where all is well.
~Being mindful builds stronger relationships~
We can use awareness to better understand our relationships and the way we interact with others: how much we tend to take things personally, how we tend to become defensive in reaction to another’s actions, often without consideration of their intention, and how our actions and words are perceived by others. Through awareness of our thoughts and judgments, we can consciously favor and create feelings of compassion, understanding, gratitude and appreciation for the people in our lives, as well as ourselves. When we express this, we build more loving, honest and genuine connections. As we mindfully cultivate self-love we gain a greater capacity to love others.
~Being mindful makes us healthier~
When we pay close attention to our mind and body, we are more likely to choose behaviors that encourage positive thoughts and emotions and that contribute to our well being. For example, when we are aware of what we’re eating and how it is making us feel, we become more likely to eat fresh foods that energize us and contribute to our overall sense of vitality over heavily processed, sugar-laden, chemical-rich foods that make us feel fatigued, achy and regretful. Of course, a healthy existence is not just influenced by what we eat, but how we breathe, the water we drink, our exposure to sunlight, if we’re fueling our passions and using our aptitudes, whether or not we’re happy in our job, our sense of spirituality and grounding within the self…The overall sense of mindbody connection that develops as a result of mindfulness helps us to recognize areas in our life that may be lacking so that we can address them and move toward greater overall health and well being.
~Being mindful reduces feelings of monotony~
Whether in relation to behaviors or thought patterns, or both, we often tend to get stuck in the monotonous grind of daily life. When we bring our attention to the present moment we notice the uniqueness of the day: the air, how we feel, the people we come across, the smiles, what’s going well in our lives rather than what’s going poorly. Being mindful can give us the awareness to break habits and self-deprecating thought patterns, to create a fresh, new day rather than living out the same old cycle day in and day out.
If all else fails, just watch your breath. If you feel uneasy, fearful or insecure, consciously cultivate the opposite—strength, confidence, courage, acceptance. When you notice yourself falling into negative, unproductive thought patterns, bring your attention to something positive in the present—the air against your skin, your loving heart, a supportive person in your life.
Stay tuned for my next blog post on more ways to bring mindfulness into your daily life.
Happy and healthy living to you all!
About the Author
Allie Andrews is the Founder and Program Director at OmBody Health. She is a Certified Health Coach, author, and is pursuing her Master’s Degree in Education with a focus in Corporate Wellness. Allie and her team have been transforming employee wellbeing since 2014. Learn more.