The gift of the present
"Wherever you are, be there totally."
- Eckhart Tolle
Mindfulness is one of those buzz words that has catapulted to the forefront of the mental health field over the past 25 years. Many people have heard of it or know what it is, but when it comes to practicing mindfulness, it's still a relatively new concept for some people. Quite simply, it's focused attention. My first introduction to mindfulness was a book I received from my aunt about 20 years ago by Jon Kabat-Zinn entitled, Wherever You Go, There You Are. It was the game-changer I needed to help me be more present and less anxious in my life.
A simple practice I learned from the book was the "raisin mediation" where you spend a few minutes eating a raisin. It may sound grueling at first, but it's a great lesson in being mindful and truly experiencing the moment. It's a stark contrast to mindless eating, when we wonder how we managed to gobble down that meal so fast without breathing between bites. Or is that just me? 😁 This exercise alone helped me to have more awareness when I eat, so I can truly enjoy the experience instead of just shoveling food down my throat. It also helps me be more mindful about the foods I choose to eat and the amount.
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels
Mindfulness techniques were able to help me manage my anxiety by getting me outside of my own mind and fully into the now. I found most of my anxiety was due to the fact I was unable to be fully present most of the time. I was either replaying old events or predicting unpleasant future events throughout the day. When I started tuning in to all of my senses more often through mindfulness exercises, I stopped living inside my head so much. It was like this magic elixir for my anxiety. It was not always easy at first, but it became more effortless over time.
Mindfulness is not just for people who struggle with their mental health. It's for everyone. Some people do it naturally, but many of us have to make a conscious effort to be more present in our waking hours so we can improve and maintain our overall wellbeing. While it may be cliché to call the present moment a gift, I truly believe that. We are not promised tomorrow, so we might as well make the most of today, and more specifically, right now.
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