Mindfulness Made Simple

Dr. Tanya Hudson
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Many of us are under a lot of stress at work and sometimes at home and in our personal lives. Getting a handle on this stress is key and meditation is such a valuable tool in helping to reduce the impact stress can have on our body, mind, and spirit.  Stress can lead to chronic inflammation, contributing to many long-term health concerns including diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, cancer, and even depression and anxiety.  The good news is that this inflammation is treatable, and meditation can help!

There are a number of easy ways to start being more mindful or present each day.  I hope that one of the following techniques resonates with you and becomes something that you can do every day!  Remember, consistency is what will lead to change.  Make this activity a daily habit, just as important as brushing your teeth. 

The following ideas were provided by Clyde Boiston, a wonderful physical therapist and meditation teacher, during a meditation seminar I attended. 

  • Take 5-10 minutes in the morning to get grounded before you start your day. Gaze out the window, sit with a pet, listen to the sounds of nature, or take a quiet walk.
  • Take a minute to quietly pay attention to your breathing while waiting for your car to warm up.  
  • Be aware of any tension in your body while driving – hands wrapped tightly around the steering wheel, shoulders raised, jaw clenched. Breathe gently into these areas and see if you can begin to allow them to soften.
  • Turn off the radio and simply be present with the experience of driving… the feel of the road through the steering wheel, the change in your body position as your car turns a corner, the faces of the other drivers when stopped in traffic.
  • When you leave your car and walk to your home or office, notice the contact of your feet on the ground… the sounds around you… feeling the warmth of the sun or the coolness of the breeze on your skin.
  • Use a specific sound during the day to signal you to pause and check in with yourself to see how you’re doing… noticing what thoughts are in your mind, what emotions are in your heart, how your physical body is feeling. Your mindfulness bell might be the ringing of a phone, a plane flying overhead, or the chime of a clock at the top of the hour.
  • Take the time to look into people’s eyes as you speak to them. Think of one particular thing that you appreciate about them… their smile, their sense of humor, their kindness.
  • Choose to eat 1 or 2 lunches per week in silence, savoring all the nuances of the food.
  • Notice the transitions in your life… moving from one room in your house to another… from the inside to the outdoors… the exchange of one task to another.
  • Resist the temptation to frequently check your phone for messages or emails. Consider designating only certain specific times a day when you will do this.
  • At the end of the day, make a mental or written list of 3 or 4 things that you have to be grateful for… the kindness of a friend, something new that you learned, something you accomplished that made you feel proud.

In a world filled with stressors, it’s crucial to find effective ways to manage and reduce the impact of stress on our overall well-being. Meditation emerges as a powerful tool to combat stress and its potential consequences. By incorporating mindfulness practices into our daily lives, we can counteract stress-induced chronic inflammation, paving the way for a healthier body, mind, and spirit. Let’s embrace the transformative power of meditation and take control of our well-being!

If you prefer an app for meditation, I love Headspace, Insight Timer, or Calm.  There are many more out there, but these seem to be the favorites in my practice.  

Mostly, remember to keep it simple.  Even 1-3 minutes a day of mindfulness can make a difference in your physical and mental health.  YOU ARE IMPORTANT and you deserve this short break to recharge, relax, and enjoy this beautiful gift called life.