You have probably heard about Mindfulness and about living in the present moment.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction defines Mindfulness as “Paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”
Soooo… as we say where I come from “Waddya get with that?” What are the benefits of Mindfulness? or living in the present moment? Why would I want to do that?
First off…. let’s try a little experiment…. take a moment from reading this blog… notice your breath. Does it feel easy? or tight? shallow or deep? Just notice. Try not to judge it or label it as good or bad. Notice that you are breathing.
Notice the sensation of your butt on the chair. Your feet on the floor. Your hands. Your eyes.
Close your eyes. For as long as you can – just noticing sensations and breath.
Good! Did you notice anything different by doing this short little experiment? Most people report that they feel a bit more relaxed – that their breath slowed down, their heart rate slowed down, their muscles a wee bit more relaxed.
If you are like most of us in this country, our lives are so busy and so rushed. One thing that I have noticed is that with Mindfulness, life slows down – in a good way. When we are rushing around our nervous system is in Fight or Flight (sympathetic) mode which has a whole crescendo of effects on our bodies – heart rate and blood pressure increases, our digestive organs shut down, our adrenal glands overwork.
When we stop to notice our breath even for a few moments, our nervous system begins to shift to the Rest and Digest (parasympathetic) mode which slows heart rate and decreases blood pressure, increases organ function, increases feel-good brain chemistry.
So for starters, there are physical benefits of practicing Mindfulness – better digestion, better sleep, lower blood pressure, a feeling of calm.
I have found that I delightfully notice things more acutely – the song of the birds, the green of the leaves on the tree, the feel of the breeze on my skin, the laugh of a child, the shape of the clouds floating by.
I have also found that when I practice Mindfulness I become more in touch with “me”. I become more aware of who I truly am – I feel more ease, inner peace, “at home” and then I have become aware of how and when I leave “home”. I become more aware of my truth, what resonates for me and what doesn’t resonate thus making it easier to make decisions and set boundaries.
Noticing these changes encourages me to keep practicing – to make it my moment to moment way of approaching life.
Mindfulness is a practice – it comes and goes but it grows deeper and wider and more constant the more you practice it. It becomes a way of life.
There are only benefits from practicing Mindfulness. No negatives. As a teacher of mine used to tell me, “Don’t take my word for it… try it yourself!”