Mindfulness…A State of Beginnings and Being
June 30, 2019
To begin with my overall mindset with this company, mindfulness is an underlying factors that ties all components of wellness and full body well-being together. Without mindfulness, it is difficult to be aware of our actions and the world around us that influences all we do. Mindfulness simply refers to the mental state of focusing awareness on the present moment and feelings. Mindfulness is all about being present! It comes down to being aware of our though, aware of our feelings, aware of sensations around us. It is bringing your full attention to the present experiences and fully living them in the moment beginning right now.
Benefits of Mindfulness
Initially learning this concept was very difficult for me. I grew up an hour outside New York City, and even in the suburbs of New Jersey, life is fast paced and everything is geared toward a future goal to achieve. It was not until I moved to California when I began to hear these words and begin to embrace the importance of the now…the importance of embracing the person I am presently in this world and my surroundings. Being an occupational therapist trained in health care of the Western medicine approach, I have found that none of these practices conflict with modern medicine. If anything, they complement each other by treating the whole person!
4 Simple Ways for Starting Mindfulness Now
Walk in Nature – Connect with the world around you by venturing out into nature, be it in a field, the forest, the beach, whatever location is around you that you feel connected to. Go out into nature and disconnect from the electronics for a bit to listen to the sounds and take in the sights around you.
Listen to Others – And I mean, really listen. Engage with another person without the distractions of other factors around you, giving them your full attention. Ask them questions and attentively listen to their answers to get their perspectives. No only is this skill highly valued (and often rare these days) but it allows you to get out of the constant chatter that is in your own head, quiet it for a bit, and build a relationship with someone else.
Eat without Distractions – Too often these days, we eat in front of the TV or with our phones within arms distance, eating mindlessly without even realizing what we are eating or when we are done! By actually engaging in the present moment, we are required to slow down and observe our surroundings. Instead of eating out of plastic and take out containers, plate your food and properly sit down at a table – be in tune to how the food tastes, smells, and feels. Embrace all your senses involved with the activity!
Gratitude Journal – This is an activity I will admittedly say that I fail at quite often at being consistent because I have never been a good journal writer. A gratitude journal is simply a journal you write in daily to remind yourself to reflect on the day and the blessings you encountered, big or small. I like to limit it to three things daily, encouraging me to think of the small wonderful things of the day, no matter how wonderful or difficult it was. This writing does not need to be anything fancy, elaborate or detailed, just a way of reflecting and getting out from your brain positives of the day. My days vary from more detailed (like “healthy home cooking and skills to do so” and “pixar movie nights with my love filled with happiness and laughter”) to simple phrases (like “hugs”, “my family” and “mom”). Some recommend writing in this journal upon waking to start your day off, but I have found it better to write in it before bed to reflect on the day and go to sleep with a clear mind focusing my attention on the positives.
Getting into the Mindful Groove!
In this series of mindfulness practices and techniques to increase our daily mindfulness, I encourage you to look within yourself and do the difficult work of focusing on your brain. I will be covering multiple means of mindful practices, including meditation, breathing, affirmations, grounding, as well as how these practices can be translated to help your children and teens.
As one of my favorite authors, Dr. Seuss, so eloquently put it, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” We all have our own incredible brain in our heads, and it’s how we use that can make the difference in so many aspects of our life. Join me on this journey to explore how to become more aware of our environment and surrounds, conscious of our thoughts and feelings, and mindful in our lives.
Alli Carbone, MS, OTR/L, CCYT, is a pediatric occupational therapist that specializes in using yoga for sensory processing skills and education for the whole family.