Mindfulness is a type of meditation that helps us place our full attention on an object.
Mindfulness is also a way to place our full attention on others and uplift our physical health.
The opposite of mindfulness is regularly seen in the lives of Americans every day…perhaps in your life, too. In our busy lifestyles, it is common that we rush around with a to-do list in hand, trying to accomplish tasks without engaging our conscious awareness. Have you ever tackled your errands and ended up back at home without a clear memory of how you drove the car?
When we practice mindfulness, it helps us to be more deliberate in our behaviors and choices. Our health is also better served when we take the time to be present and engage with others during our busy day. Instead of operating on auto-pilot, we can interact with others in simple, mindful ways and plug into the life pulsing around every objective. After we practice these small and simple interactions, our own health will benefit.
There is science behind the practice of mindfulness and the health benefits it delivers. Ohio State University’s psychologist Dr. Ruchika Prakash shares some of this objective proof. “There’s already proof that mindfulness-based practices can have a positive impact on brain health.”
In addition to increasing our personal feelings of empowerment as we use mindfulness, studies are showing that sustained mindfulness-based practices can help us follow-through on other health-promoting habits like exercising, prioritizing sleep, improving our food life, and following our doctor’s orders. “One of the avenues that I’m trying to get into is the idea of mindfulness promoting behavior change…thinking about mindfulness as a facilitator of behavior change is the next frontier in this research.”
Coach Georgianne has some mindfulness ideas you might enjoy experimenting with this week:
- Leave your car at home on errand day. Not everyone’s neighborhood is walkable, but when we leave our car at home, we can find other ways to move about for a couple of hours. I love walking to the library! Others ride their bikes to visit a friend, or join in a trip to the grocery store with their neighbor. Each of these options take us out into the world in a new way, which wakes us up and draws our attention outward. It helps us get more fresh air and catch up with what’s happening outside of our home and car. This is mindfulness in action!
- Appreciate the grocery store staff. We wait for our cashier to scan all of our items, and the young lady standing at the end of the conveyor belt looks bored. Make friendly eye contact. You don’t have to stare at the checker or sacking professional, but we can reach out to others using our facial expression. Instead of thinking about what you will cook for dinner when you get home, look into the face of the person who is touching all of your groceries. Just for a moment, mindfully smile and connect with these fellow humans. They will feel seen and appreciated. Good vibes for everyone.
- Walk in slow motion. If you walk a dog, take a stroll on lunch break, or sashay to the mailbox after work, you can be mindful on the move. As you decide to move slowly from place to place, take a moment to stop, look around, and listen. As we do this, it slows down our brain-train and lets us connect with the environment. Do you hear the breeze in the trees? Are the neighborhood kids laughing out loud? Let the sounds fill your mind for a few delicious moments.
- Think about someone else’s pain. When we experience chronic or sharp pain, it often causes us to retreat into our own body and thoughts. It’s easy to ignore those around us when we get wound up inside our own pain. It’s okay to give yourself a 10-minute pain break. Is there someone in your life who is also struggling? Consider what it’s like for that person to go home tonight and cope with their painful situation. Is there anything you can do to help? This kind of mindfulness can last for moments, and the empathy you feel for others is a healing grace in your own life. Other times, we can be helpful in ways that ease the burden in our friend’s lives, as we help them cope or pick up the slack for them. Choose the amount of time that’s right for you and be mindful about someone else.
- Reach out and check in. The last idea I have for you today about mindfulness and its impact on your health involves your relationships. Do you sometimes think of your favorite aunt or cousin, and then get busy at work before you can reach out to them? This kind of thing can go on for years if we don’t take mindful action! How about your neighbor who hasn’t stopped by your home for awhile. Is it time for you to check in with them? Make a list of people you’d like to stay in touch with, and post it somewhere you’ll see it every day. On every regular old Wednesday, choose a person from the list and give them a call, write them a note, or invite them to dinner. You’ll feel good for nurturing the relationships that matter to you. They’ll feel good because they’ve been thinking about you, too! They just didn’t have a swell plan for being mindful and taking healthy action.
These five examples of mindfulness in everyday life are part of a larger practice, and perhaps you’ve already invested time and energy in this kind of self-care. If you are new to present-focused consciousness tools like this, I encourage you to give some or all of these ideas a try! Choose one and try it on for size this week. See how it works for you and let us all know what you think. I predict that you will feel calm and reinvigorated, and those you reach out to…they’ll feel wonderful as well.