By Cawood Fitzhugh
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” – Alan Watts
What is mindfulness training?
Mindfulness training is practicing how to operate in present moment awareness intentionally and non-judgmentally. In our current societal state of being driven by distraction, this has become a lost art. Consciously or unconsciously, we tend to choose to distract our attention away from whatever- usually something uncomfortable to something more comfortable. Those cute little puppy videos, Tic Tok, Instagram or our cell phones are good at this. It’s so automatic, we aren’t even aware of it.
There are endless “feeds” today in which to spend our time and attention. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with these feeds, they can impact our lives in some unknowingly adverse ways by increasing anxiety. Take a few moments reflecting on how many feeds you find yourself spending your time pursuing. Here are just a few examples of our daily “feeds”.
– Repetitive unnecessary email checking feeds?
– Continuous news feeds?
– Repetitive social media feeds?
– Continuous music feeds- at our desk or in stores to distract us from what is really bugging us at work to buying more at a store?
– TVs feeds- binge watching -one program goes directly into another for better ratings, hooking you to stay on the couch until way past your bedtime.
– When not necessary, repetitive Epic check of my lab feeds?
– Stress eating feeds- eating mindlessly and too quickly in front of a computer or when binge watching late night TV?,
– Alcohol feeds- how else to unwind the anxiety exacerbated from all the other feeds?
With these feeds, where are you placing your attention and what are you really getting? Are these feeds serving you or, by pulling the attention away, moving you farther from your goals?
Mindfulness training is about showing up to our own present moment.
When we do strength training, we are making the muscles stronger. When we practice mindfulness, we are training our minds. The neuroscience research finds that even small moments of mindfulness, many times a day, can change the brain. The research behind this demonstrates that mindfulness practice can reduce stress and anxiety. It also can help with emotional eating, and help change our mindless habits.
Learning to be more present in our daily lives can help us tease out for ourselves, “Is this behavior helping me or hindering achieving my goals?” Am I drinking more caffeine daily because of staying up too late and need it now to feel awake? Then there’s the domino effect: is the additional caffeine increasing feelings of anxiousness, blood pressure or rapid heart rate, contributing to an irritable bowel scenario, increased crankiness, or irritability? Is my worrying about this now interfering with my sleep?
Take a few moments noting what is “feeding” you today? Ask yourself “Is it bringing me closer to my goals? What am I really getting?” Then check in with the body on how you are feeling- Relaxed? Anxious? Tired? Content? Take a brief moment to do a mindfulness practice- noticing the physical sensations of these feeds as you engage in them. Where do you feel them most in your body? Head? Chest? Belly? Hands? What does this feel like inside? Then take a deep breath in and let it out.
Next month, we will begin to address anxiety and how we can begin to unwind it in ourselves.
Filed Under: Monthly Musings