As I write this post I am just a few weeks away from turning 60 years old. I have been a longtime wife, mother, nurse, and caregiver, a new grandmother and currently work a full-time job in corporate America.
A couple of years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to the concept of practicing mindfulness and questioned if I might be interested in registering for a local class. She explained that Jon Kabat-Zinn created research-backed stress-reduction program Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and the numerous health benefits associated with this practice. Her question was first met with skepticism. However, today I recognize the balance mindfulness has brought to my life and acknowledge this has been one of the best decisions I ever made. For that reason, I thought I would share with you why it is important to me.
Mindfulness is about being aware, being in the present moment, without judgment. Being mindful is something we already do and are naturally familiar with. There is nothing new or strange about it. In fact, you are practicing mindfulness when you pause to take a breath prior to entering an important meeting or answering the phone.
I have learned the role proper breathing plays in decreasing stress, gained an appreciation for my surroundings, formed a deeper understanding of my emotions and reshaped my ability to handle physical pain.
There are days I leave work feeling like the only thing filling my cranium is tofu. I have found that meditation along with mindfulness practice has helped me increase my ability to focus and reduce mind chatter. I have also been able to sleep better and give others my full attention, no more blank stares or wondering what someone just said.
One of my favorite ways to practice mindfulness is through walking. We all walk. Remember when we were babies walking was celebrated! A rite of passage so to speak. So, I challenge you to be mobile, get up and try mindful walking. It is simple to get started.
Stand up straight, relax the body you do not want to be stiff.
Place your right hand over your left, cupping the left your right. Place hands slightly above your navel for balance.
Drop your eyes just a little so you are not looking straight ahead.
Step out with your left foot and notice how it feels to move through the motion. What sensations do you feel when the foot hits the ground? How does it feel when moving from the heel to toe? Then follow with the right foot.
Lastly, walk at a slow pace. If you find your mind wandering, or thoughts entering your head, simply bring your attention back to the sensations you are feeling while you walk. Become aware once again of the sensations of your feet on the ground.
Enjoy! Let me know if you like the experience.