As I continue to learn more about the numerous benefits of mindfulness, I imagine a future where mindful practices are taught during childhood and practiced throughout our lives.
When we are mindful we are fully present in the here and now. We are aware of where we are in space. Our senses are turned on. We see what is surrounding us. We hear the noises in our environment. We feel the texture of our clothes and whether the air is cool or warm. We sense how a chair supports us and the ground we are standing on. We are engaged in the task at hand. We are not overly reactive or overwhelmed. We are aware and witnessing through a gentle and nonjudgmental lens.
The reason millions have begun to practice mindfulness, even though it sounds so simple and natural, is that it's actually not. We are easily distracted and lose touch with our body and what's actually happening in the moment. Our brain gets busy thinking its millions of thoughts and worrying about what happened yesterday or what might occur in the future.
The ways to practice mindfulness are numerous and varied. You can practice mindfulness while walking, standing, lying, eating and moving. Athletes are incorporating mindfulness into their practices and performance. Because of the research on improved work productivity and academic performance, workplaces and schools are providing mindfulness education.
This morning I listened to a guided walking mindfulness practice, instead of a podcast. I walked intentionally. I felt the actual steps I took. I felt my connection to the earth. I sensed my movement through space. I definitely felt the cold air on my forehead and tried not to judge it. I noticed the snow dotted with car exhaust and twigs. I walked by a golf course and took time to witness the irregularly-shaped circular mostly frozen pond. I heard the wind gusts and the rush of distant traffic. My senses were turned on, and I felt grounded in the here and now.
According to an article from Greater Good, an online magazine out of Berkeley, the following are the numerous benefits of mindfulness:
Decreased stress and psychological distress
Enhanced mental health
Increased emotion regulation and self-control
Decreased anxiety, depression and worry
Enhanced academic achievement
Improved social and relationship-building skills
Reduction in aggression and problematic behaviors in children
Reduced symptoms of employee burnout
A decrease in employee turnover and turnover intentions
Enhanced job performance
Increased ability to cope with bullying
Enhanced resilience in children
A decrease in blood pressure, chronic pain and gastrointestinal difficulties
So, join me, friends. Let's practice mindfulness and invite our children and grandchildren to join us. What a wonderful way to be present with and for one another. In this day of digital distractions, stress and challenges, we can find our way back to each other and treasure our moments together.