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How mindfulness positively affects your health

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For a more in-depth discussion of this topic you can watch my Facebook livestream  here.

To start the conversation, let's define what mindfulness means:

  1. The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
  2. A mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment.

To be clear, this is not "mind over matter". It's not done by force or will. It's done by cultivating the discipline to just calmly "be there" in the current moment by practicing that ability.

Most spiritual and healing philosophies agree

Being present in the current moment is a hallmark of most spiritual and healing philosophies. But that is harder to do than one might think!! It's SO easy to get "stuck in your head", thinking about your to-do list or some situation you might be worried about. When this happens, you are not really "there", and this is an additional stress factor. And we all know that the more stress you are experiencing, the bigger the toll on your health.

A simple example

There is a show on Netflix that is the perfect example of this! It's called Tidying Up and is hosted by Marie Kondo. For dramatic effect, of course, they show homes that are REALLY out of control with clutter. But even if this isn't you, you just might have a few areas that could use tidying up.

Here's what this has to do with mindfulness. When she arrives and has a few words with the owners, she finds a spot where she can kneel on the floor, close her eyes, put her palms on the floor, and really say "hello" to the home. This brings her into the present moment and basically, into communication with the home. It also shows the people that they just might be taking their environment a bit for granted and might not really be present with it.

As she addresses each area of clutter (clothes, books, kitchen/garage, etc), she instructs the residents to pick up each item and ask themselves if it sparks joy for them. Even if items aren't beautiful (think extension cords or cinder blocks), when you address them like this, they will likely make you happy of they are useful to you. This exercise is actually putting the person into present time, addressing each item and really paying attention to it.

Here's a trailer about her show, if you want to check it out.

Other activities to help bring you into the present moment

Many sports require you to concentrate so much that it brings you into the present. (Think tennis, racquetball, skiing, etc.) Add to that factor the physical exercise and you get double the positive effect on stress!

One of my favorite exercises to bring you present involves just taking a little walk and on purpose looking at things in your environment, really noticing them and not just glancing over them. You can also do like Marie Kondo and touch items one at a time in your environment.

Give yourself a break

Remember being a little kid and being fascinated with an ant or a cloud? Kids still take joy in their environments because they are not yet dealing with all the stresses of adult life. You can purposefully give yourself a break from these grown up worries and rediscover life through childlike eyes. So dance! Play! It's my Rx for your best health.

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