Tag Archives: Mindfulness

THE SECRET ART OF LIVING IN THE ‘NOW’.

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Image via Omar Mendoza on LinkedIn: bit.ly/2EDjarX

@psychtoday #livinginthenow #LiveWell #mindfulness

“Everyone agrees it’s important to live in the moment, but the problem is how,” says Ellen Langer, a psychologist at Harvard and author of Mindfulness. “When people are not in the moment, they’re not there to know that they’re not there.” Overriding the distraction reflex and awakening to the present takes intentionality and practice.” [Dixit:2008].

This is true. Living in the now rarely comes easy to anyone. I, for one, have a mind that jumps from idea to idea and thought to thought incessantly. I think if I moved around as much as my mind does, I’ll be the fittest person in the whole world!

It is, unfortunately, the ‘sickness’ of our times. You cannot just focus on work.  While you are there you are constantly distracted by phone calls, colleagues dropping in with assignments or just to chat, and that is just the things you experience while you sit behind your desk. Behind your forehead  your mind is busy ALL THE TIME: must pick up the kids at two, what will be for lunch/dinner, remember the present for Mom, oh and it’s Valentine’s Day….roses, wine, chocolates for hubby, etc, etc and so on and so forth. No wonder we suffer from exhaustion and terminal depression!

‘In the now’ seems impossible, doesn’t it? Well, let me share a secret with you; while you are so busy overthinking everything, planning and plotting your next move or mulling over past mistakes, life is passing you by. You are MISSING EVERYTHING that goes on around you!

Dixit’s article in Psychology Today  gives a few tips on how to practice your ‘now-mindset’ . I’m writing a shorter version for your reading pleasure, but you should really read the full article here.

Below a summary of some pointers for those of us having trouble taming our unruly thoughts:

  1. Stop being so self-conscious.

Do not overthink what you are doing now. Just let go and DO it. If you are, for instance, asked to draw a picture of a flower. Don’t fret about the type, what colour, what medium, how big or small, just GET ON WITH IT! Grab what you have at hand and draw that flower, you may surprise yourself and, who knows, even ENJOY what you did for a change!

  1. Enjoy the moment.

Stop worrying about the future or the past. Let it go and enjoy what you have NOW, here, this moment. If you are, for instance, on the beach, you might think: “The weather is so beautiful, I hope tomorrow will be so sunny too.” While this thought may seem innocent enough, it has already re-focused your mind to what is going to happen tomorrow. While you are fretting about this, the beautiful day at the beach is passing you by and you are MISSING OUT!

  1. Just BREATHE!

Meditation experts and yogis alike know this. Focus on your breathing to bring your thoughts back to the present. Breathing helps us to reconsider things. It may be that you are having a disagreement with a colleague or you are stuck with a maths problem, whatever it is, if you just close your eyes for a second and BREATHE, your mind will literally reorganize itself and bring everything back to ‘the now’. You will be able to think clearer and, by focusing on breathing, all other distractions will disappear.

  1. Flow with the moment.

What is meant by ‘flow’? Well, in short, it means being so involved with something you are doing that you lose track of time. Flow means you are focusing on the task at hand, without even noticing distractions. Dixit mentions the example of a pianist, who will focus on a piece of music, setting himself a goal of finishing the first few bars, then the next and he will immediately hear if he makes a mistake. For him nothing else but the piano and the music exist.

You can do this too by consciously focusing on getting things done, one little bit at a time and actively avoiding distractions.

  1. Accept what is wrong in your life.

Ask yourself this question: if something in my life is so terrible that I cannot possibly change it without enormous effort, should I allow it to spoil my enjoyment of life as a whole? The secret is to understand that your emotions connected with a bad situation is real, it is there, lingering in your mind.  Recognize it and accept it, but do not let it tease you into thoughts of despair.  You can still enjoy every moment, even with bad things going on.

That bad thing is not happening NOW, is it?? It is normal to have moments of sadness or anxiety about that which we cannot control, but focusing all your thoughts and energy on those negative emotions will do no good.  An example may be a car accident. Say, for instance, you and your family are in an accident. The car is written off, but you guys are fine. Yes, you can get all depressed about the wrecked car, worry about the insurance claim, the time you may spend without a car while yours is getting fixed, this is all normal. You may feel sad, upset and anxious, but don’t let those negative thoughts overpower the fact that your family is fine, without a scratch, IN THIS MOMENT! That is something to celebrate, don’t you agree?

  1. Engage with the moment.

I’ve experienced this many times over the years. You’re on autopilot and do things that you are not even aware of. Sometimes when driving, I will end up somewhere and not be able to recall the drive there. Or I’ll do chores at home and end up with a clean house, but no memory of the day. I zoned out completely! This may sound very funny (and it actually is, in a way), but it is also very disturbing to lose an entire day.

We should practice to engage with every moment of our lives. While driving somewhere, look at your surroundings, you may be pleasantly surprised about the view you’ve been missing all this time. When you clean your house, look at the items you’re dusting, appreciate them for a change. Remember, some of the items have stories attached to them and you should enjoy them for what they represent in your life.

I know what you will be saying: “This sounds like work.” Well, that’s the fun part! Being in the now is not work at all. Yes, it takes some practice to change your busy mind habit, but you can start immediately, with small things.

Where ever you are now, just stop for a minute and breathe, take in the scenery, be thankful you’re alive, appreciate the sunshine outside. That, my friends, is all it takes.

You don’t need to bend and shape your life around this ‘new’ idea. Living in the now doesn’t mean setting goals and reaching for the stars. You don’t have to look for it or strive to achieve it, because you are already there.

Do yourself a favour and read the full article by Jay Dixit here.

SOURCES:

DIXIT, Jay.  2008.  The Art of Now: Six Steps to Living in the Moment[Web:] https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200811/the-art-now-six-steps-living-in-the-moment [Date of Access:] February 14, 2018. [Short link: bit.ly/1RJmwrb]

IMAGE SOURCE:

MENDOZA, Omar.  2014.  The power of the now.  [Web:] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20141030214042-195965566-the-power-of-the-now/  [Date of access:]  February 14, 2018 [Short link: bit.ly/2EDjarX]

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15 Stress Management Tips That Work

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Image via Be Brain Fit

Stress is part of our modern lifestyle. It seems that we cannot survive without it and, even in moments of relaxation, we tend to clench our jaws or frown. These days it is the price we pay for our fast, technologically driven, multi-tasking lives.

Every so often I wish I could be more relaxed. And just as I start thinking I’ve got the hang of it, a thought pops up: “You must remember to type up that presentation/bake that cake/invite so-and-so to the party/take the cat to the vet….”. There is ALWAYS something. Stress and stressful situations cannot be avoided.

Deane Alban shares 15 stress management tips that have been tried and tested. It WORKS!! You will learn how to breathe, not just in-and-out, no, proper, diaphragmatic breathing.

Meditation is also something that many of us have heard of, but has never really tried. Personally I’ve tried it over and over for months (my mind is ALWAYS all over the place) and was about to give up when I got it right…finally. Meditation helps more than just to focus your thoughts and turn inward, it does help with that. But more importantly, meditation makes you more resilient and less reactive to stress by decreasing the number of neurons in your amygdala, the area of the brain associated with fear, anxiety, and stress. [Deane Alban: BeBrainFit]

Ms Alban goes on to describe 13 more self-help ways of relieving day to day stress. Find them all here.

The thing is, stress and stress-triggers or stressors will ALWAYS be around us, and even within us. We cannot ignore it and we cannot change it. It is a fact of life.

However, you can choose how to deal with stress. You can make a difference in your perception of stressful situations and decide to what level you will allow it to affect you negatively. The tools to help you achieve this are there, mentioned in this article, in fact.

Ask yourself this: do I want to allow stress to ruin my life? Or: do I want to take control of the stress and bring change in my life? The choice is yours.

SOURCE:

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the HOLISTIC pages is out! Edition of 19 May 2017

Read all about the latest global trends in holistic health. Find out more about scientific breakthroughs and discover some of the most popular quotes and affirmations of the week.

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How to Practice Mindfulness – 5 Tips No One Has Told You 

Via @PsychToday by Ryan M. Niemiec

[Excerpt only. Read full article here.]

Mindfulness is a paradox. It’s the easiest thing in the world and the hardest thing in the world. Let me explain.

There’s an easy way and a hard way to practice mindfulness.

5 tips to cultivate mindfulness:

Tip #1: Start with the easy stuff – build your mindfulness “muscle”

Tip #2: Don’t meditate for 1 hour a day – start with what you are willing to do to establish a routine — perhaps 5 minutes a day

Tip #3: Practice ANY type of mindfulness you wish – go where your motivation is highest.

Tip #4: Forgive yourself, repeatedly.

Tip #5: Use your natural energy sources.

Want to know more? Read the original article here.

Source:

How to Practice Mindfulness – 5 Tips No One Has Told You | Psychology Today

The Tiny Mental Shift That Makes EVERYTHING Easier

Via @MindBodyGreen.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Original article in MBG by Dr Patricia Thompson

When you are quite the procrastinator, like I am, you can make endless to-do-lists, you’re a master at goal-setting (in print, that is) and you never really get anything done. There is always some silly reason why: I can’t go to the gym; I can’t finish this assignment, because there is not enough time… On and on it goes…

Dr Thompson makes an interesting suggestion in her article for MindBodyGreen (read it here).  She writes: “Saying can’t takes away your power, and in some ways provides an excuse for not moving forward toward your goals or fulfilling your commitments.

So, how can you shift your mindset to sidestep this problem? Replace can’twith won’t.” [1]

Now your ”reasons” for not reaching your goal will sound different:  I won’t go to the gym; I won’t finish this assignment. 

That little word ”won’t” changes things….it gives back your power. Perhaps you won’t, but that doesn’t mean you can’t…”won’t” creates the possibility of a different choice, one with a different outcome.

Dr Thompson continues to advise on how we can implement this in our lives:

  1. Reflect on the truth – what is the real reason you are not reaching your goal. What is keeping you from moving forward?
  2. Make a commitment to yourself – having decided that your goal is indeed important to you, you need to make a deal with yourself and write it down! Put it somewhere where you can always see it. This will keep you motivated.
  3. Tell others about your goal – this will help to keeping you motivated, because people tend to ask about your progress and you would not want to lose face by telling them you’ve given up again.
  4. Repeat the process if necessary – sometimes, despite your efforts, you may lose your ”happy thoughts” and be unable to finish what you started. This can be the result of unforeseen circumstances or you could lose your passion for the project. Whatever it may be, remind yourself constantly of the ”can’t”/”won’t” mind-shift, and take the necessary steps to accomplish your goal.

[Please read the full article here.]

Source:

[1] The Tiny Mental Shift That Makes EVERYTHING Easier – mindbodygreen.com by Dr Patricia Thompson

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